Painter Yawor produces portraits of killed military personnel
By Karen Kadilak
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 7:50 p.m.
Having recently finished his 60th portrait, Alexander Yawor of Hopewell still becomes emotional when painting pictures of military personnel killed in action.
“You can't help crying,” said Yawor, 90, an independent artist who began donating portraits to families three to four years ago.
Yawor spends about a week on each 16- by 20-inch, head-to-shoulder painting.
American Gold Star Mothers and other survivor groups reach out to families for photographs that he uses as guides.
“A uniform with medals, badges and ribbons takes longer to paint than a plain one,” Yawor said.
Kimberly Geonnotti of Clayton, N.J., cherishes the portrait that Yawor painted of her son, Army Pfc. David J. “DJ” Bentz III, who was killed in Iraq in 2007.
“When there's (an event) honoring DJ, the portrait travels with me,” Geonnotti said, adding that Yawor “really captured my son's eyes.”
Yawor said he painted only local service members, at first.
“Alex and I created a letter to introduce him to other organizations,” said Bonnie Phillippi, founder of the Yellow Ribbon Girls of Lawrence and Beaver counties.
The Western Pennsylvania Families of Fallen Heroes Foundation advertises the portraits on its website.
“Alex does remarkable work,” founder Bill Tomko said.
Yawor, who retired from a pipe mill 30 years ago, receives donations to pay for supplies, framing and shipping.
Fellow members of the Beaver Valley Woodcarvers are among those who donate.
“We try to let people know there is a man who is so kind to others,” said Theresa Napoli, secretary of the group.
“We'll give $200 or $300, which he's reluctant to take,” treasurer Rita Gallagher said.
Yawor, a Marine veteran who took up painting after returning home from World War II, considers his work a calling.
“I feel certain people are here for a certain reason,” Yawor said. “Since I knew how to paint, I should do portraits for the families.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.