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State lawmakers honor John 'Sonny' Kovatch

  • The House adopted a condolence resolution sponsored by Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill) on Tuesday, April 12 to honor John J. "Sonny" Kovatch Jr., formerly of Nesquehoning, who passed away on…
    The House adopted a condolence resolution sponsored by Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill) on Tuesday, April 12 to honor John J. "Sonny" Kovatch Jr., formerly of Nesquehoning, who passed away on Jan. 29. House Resolution 151 passed the House unanimously. Pictured from left are: John Kovatch III holding John Kovatch V, Ashley Kovatch, Heffley and Knowles.
Published April 13. 2011 05:00PM

The late John "Sonny" Kovatch, who built a business in Carbon County that employs over 800 people and is recognized globally, was memorialized in Harrisburg yesterday.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions honoring Kovatch.

The House resolutions were co-sponsored by Reps. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill).

The Senate resolutions were co-sponsored by Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-14) and Sen. David G. Argall (R-29).

Both bills, which were condolence resolutions, passed the House and Senate unanimously on Tuesday on a day when his family members were in Harrisburg.

"Sonny was a great local business owner and employer in Carbon County, and we felt it fitting to invite his family to the Capitol to participate in a floor recognition for him," said Heffley. "He truly cared about improving the quality of life in his community."

Kovatch, a World War II veteran, began an automotive repair business and developed that business into Kovatch Mobile Equipment and the Kovatch Organization, which has employed hundreds of people in Carbon County through the years.

"Sonny sacrificed much for his community, his employees, his country and his family," said Knowles. "He could have lived anywhere, but loved Pennsylvania and loved Carbon County, and he came to be loved by the many people whose lives he touched."

Today, Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation (KME) is the quintessential manufacturer of new fire apparatus and is the largest family-held fire truck manufacturer in North America.

The Senate Bill sates that his life "greatly benefited all those who lived, served, and worked with him."

It notes that he was a graduate of Nesquehoning High School, served in the military during World War II, and "was the founder of Kovatch Mobile Equipment, the largest family-owned fire truck manufacturer in North America."

It also adds that Kovatch was a past president of the Panther Valley Chamber of Commerce, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, and was a life member of the Nesquehoning Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Sonny is survived by wife, Helen Yelito Kovatch; son John J. III; daughters, Marianne Meixell, Jane Beury, Kathy Reaman and Judy Lebo; and was a grandfather to 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Copies of both resolutions were presented to the family.

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