People die every day and they are mourned and missed.
But when some people pass, you can listen in the hollow of the silence that ensues when their survivors gulp upon hearing the news.
That is what I experienced when I learned that City Council Vice President John Slifko had died last week at age 71.
They said time is fleeting. They didn’t commit perjury. Seventy-one years can zip by quicker than a hiccup.
I did not know John Slifko well. But our paths did cross on a monthly basis the last couple years when he attended Downtown Improvement District board meetings.
It became quickly apparent to me how extremely intelligent, kind and caring Slifko was. His love for the city of Reading was palpable.
He was a true gentleman and brought a ton of class to City Hall. His death is a cavernous loss for the city. A man of his caliber will be hard to replicate.
To me he was the ideal public servant because he listened as well as he spoke. The problem with some government officials is you wind up debating with a parrot. That was not Slifko’s style.
Until his heart gave out way too soon and I read his obit, I had no idea that John had a degree in economics from Princeton University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.
Impressive as his academic achievements were, what was even more remarkable about Slifko was that public service and social justice were always the motivators of his life — far more than amassing wealth or attaining high-ranking jobs.
Before representing District 6 on City Council, John had extensive community involvement. He was a man of the people and for the people.
He never worked as a lawyer, preferring instead to put his legal skills to use on causes in which he strongly believed. He was always an advocate for children and for the poor.
Truly a renaissance man, Slifko had extensive experience in construction and home remodeling and was a landlord for 28 years.
When it comes to John, it never will be time to let go of a memory even as the mists of time cloud the receding years.
If they ever tell my story, let them say that I was privileged to work with John Slifko on behalf of the city.