We were putting the finishing touches on our cheerful holiday issue full of gift guides and other fun seasonal stories when we heard the news that shocked our staff and countless others.
John Kominicki, the publisher of the Long Island Press who revived the title into a monthly magazine just four months ago, died Dec. 5 after a brief battle with stomach cancer. As a melanoma survivor, when we heard that he was diagnosed again, we were hoping and praying that he would pull off a repeat. But at 62 years young, John was called to his next assignment, his wife, Marie, sadly reported.
“His passing was peaceful, smooth, and — true to form — full of humor till the end,” Marie and their daughter, Anya, wrote on John’s Facebook page.
As soon as the news broke, condolences immediately poured in from those who knew him best and those who only read his work. But, as cliché as it sounds — and John, we know you’d prefer we avoid the journalistic sin of using clichés in your publication — Kominicki, we hardly knew ya. John made his mark on LI and the world well before getting hired in July to relaunch the Press.
Stars & Stripes. USA Today. The New York Times. The Dallas Morning News. Long Island Business News. Innovate Long Island. Just to name a few. The New Hampshire native and U.S. Army veteran had joined us as a seasoned reporter, editor and publisher with a thick stack of clips from across the nation and abroad.
He bought the ticket, he took the ride, to paraphrase his favorite author, Hunter S. Thompson. John was such a force — not to mention great writer, storyteller, singer, speaker and cook — that he was inducted into the Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Long Island lost a titan of the journalism indus- try,” said PCLI President Chris Vaccaro. “John Kominicki was a visionary and a seasoned journalist who knew how to tell a strong story while making an impact on the community… He is a legend and will be missed.”
His former colleagues at LIBN were brimming with fond memories of their prior publisher.
“After one with meeting him, people recognized that the man was special — as a businessman, a leader, an innovator, an intellectual and a fun-loving person,” said former LIBN editor Carl Corry. “As a writer, John was simply the best I’ve ever known… John also had a knack for getting people to open up, simply because he loved stories — both telling and listening to them.”
In his short time at the Press, he made an impression on us as well. Actors sometimes speak of how they need to avoid watching the great ones they costar with and not remembering their lines as a result. John had a similar way of distracting you with his brilliance if you were lucky enough to witness it up close.
“John continually sought out new challenges,” Marie told the Press. “He was excited at the opportunity to join the Long Island Press team because he believed strongly that there is a place for print journalism, even in the digital age.”
He may no longer be with us, but he also put his stamp all over these pages you’re holding. We could not have built this without John. It’s one of his last gifts to you, dear readers, and we will do our best to honor his legacy in this and future issues.
Besides his wife of 33 years and daughter, John is also survived by his mother, Alma, sisters Stefanie Price, Michelle McLaughlin and Jennifer Danly, and brother, Russel Johnson. The family plans to hold a memorial service for him in the New Year.
The Press will publish more tributes to John in the coming months. Send your memories to [email protected]
—Timothy Bolger and Victoria Schneps-Yunis