Emil Francis Novak, 95, died quietly at home on March 30, 2012.
Emil’s lifetime spanned significant history. Born March 1, 1917 in Stratford, CT, World War I welcomed him into the world. The Great Depression colored his adolescence. World War II made him a soldier. Post-war, his job as electrician with the General Electric Company brought him prosperity. He married Eleanor Brod and raised a family in Stratford while witnessing McCarthyism, the civil rights and women’s movements, and the Vietnam War era. His retirement in Oxford gave him the satisfaction of chopping wood while learning about computers and the Internet.
In his long and productive life, Emil was a son and brother, a husband and father, a friend and neighbor, an animal-lover and volunteer. His family knows, however, that Emil would prefer to be remembered as a soldier and patriot -- the role that shaped his personality and informed his memories.
Emil enlisted in the 43rd Infantry Division of the National Guard in 1936. His unit was mobilized in 1941 and during World War II he served as an officer in the Signal Corps. Wartime assignments took him through Europe and Africa where the Signal Corps strung communication lines and set up switching stations. Emil’s stories about these years -- some humorous, some sobering –highlighted the trials and tribulations of a young officer, responsible for men surviving a foreign, often hostile, environment.
After the war, Emil joined the Army Reserves and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His commission ended in 1970.
In and out of the military, Emil’s life was characterized by his genial and sometimes demanding temperament. He was technically imaginative – working on electrical schemes and with computers. He was intellectually critical – no fix-it project escaped suggestion or refinement. He was socially engaging – his stories and emails were peppered with aphorisms and French phrases.
Emil was generous in selected areas and careful in others – the poor and hungry (people and animals) benefited from his checkbook as well as from his time. The Goodwill Store was a favorite place to browse.
Emil is survived by his children Catherine and her companion Richard Baran, Elizabeth and Frank Korn, his grandchildren Shara and Devan Korn and his wife Erin, his great-grandchild Benjamin, his brother Richard, many nieces and nephews, and two cats. Our family is fortunate that Emil was with us for so long and special thanks are due Igor and Luba Borzenkov for their kindness and careful attention to him.
A celebration of Emil’s life is planned. Contact the family for details. Inurnment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Emil would appreciate that donations in his memory be made to either Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org) or the Oxford Ambulance Association – charities that benefited regularly from his generosity and good will.