Peter Pohorsky: a good, faithful servant
A friend of mine passed away recently whose name will be recognized by regular readers of this page. Peter Pohorsky, 93, died peacefully at his assisted living community in Grass Valley.
I decided to write because I don’t believe many knew of his passing, or of his life.
I tried to remember when I first met Peter, but couldn’t put my finger on it. When asking others, they too couldn’t seem to recall the time or even in what year. And that’s the way it was with this dear gentleman. This was the unassuming man who wrote many letters to the editor, yet you’d never know it by meeting him in person. It wasn’t until after his passing that I discovered his autobiography earlier this year, which allowed me to present some of his background.
Peter was born within a Catholic family in the small town of Domasin (about 40 miles southeast of Prague) in what is now the Czech Republic. His father was a small acreage farmer, and active in the Christian Conservative Party. He held a number of low-key jobs while in school, including at a grocery store where he struggled with the heavy lifting of bags of sugar, rice and flour as he was small in stature. His work also entailed maintaining a pleasant attitude with customers, something that did not come easy to his timid character. But he found interest outside of his employment with becoming a member of SKM, a Catholic youth movement.
Peter was able to attend a college operated by a religious order. He earned the respect of his fellow students and teachers where he mastered Latin, German and Greek, but his studies were interrupted by World War II and he ended up with hundreds of others working in labor camps in Austria. His factory was bombed by American planes in 1944. As he and his friends counted the days until the war’s end, he was relieved to be back to his studies at a public university where he finally graduated.
After the war, Peter found himself in communist Czechoslovakia, where the Russian leaders took a dim view of anything Christian; he was forced to practice his faith underground. He ended up in a refugee camp near Naples where he met his future wife and they married inside the camp in 1950. Through a series of blessings of Divine providence, the couple were able to emigrate from Italy to the USA, first in North Dakota then on to California.
Although his scholastic studies were designed for work in the academics or liberal arts, he found his war labor training as a machinist provided the rebuilding post-war work in the blue collar world as he began his career in the USA becoming a master craftsman in machine shop settings. As the years rolled by, advanced employment opportunities followed, as well as moves that ended with the family in the Bay Area, along with the addition of three sons. It wasn’t until he after he retired that he and his wife moved to Grass Valley in 1989.
As his faith increased and his lifelong journey of conversion continued, Peter found the time to reach out to others through the written word. He discovered that he could deliver his message to a greater number of people by writing letters to the editor in various newspapers. His many contributions to The Union and the Sacramento Bee are testimony to that where his Catholic faith were manifest.
Getting back to where I first met Peter, I noticed that we kept running into one another at different religious venues. I immediately liked Peter, for one he was older, always a plus for me, and his quick smile and orthodox faith. Peter knew his time here was drawing to a close, but it wasn’t until after he had passed that I realized his “bags were packed.”
Mr. Pohorsky believed that you can’t force people to give up what they know is true and good. However, if the government can convince people that their values are worthless they may eventually give up their freedom without a fight, e.g., the millions of victims of the Holocaust were led to slaughter by a relative few. Peter knew firsthand the first step towards undermining Christianity was making the values we hold as true invalid, worthless and evil — and of no conscience. And if that’s the result, then why be a believer if all we hold dear is unpopular, bad or hateful? It’s then that the door opens and they take away our rights to practice what we hold dear. Does that sound familiar?
Thank you Lord for this righteous person who was truly “a good and faithful servant!” He gave living testimony to what it was to be a Christian. He didn’t shy away from his beliefs. He wasn’t embarrassed to speak the Truth of God. And thank you Peter for helping us realize that all we do should be for the honor and glory of God. He was a living example of Catholicism, the triumph of faith, wedded to reason, in the light of truth.
Dennis Babson lives in Grass Valley.
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