Markers placed at Avonmore graves of 2 immigrant coal miners
Diana Galo remembers Frank Bonn.
Her father, Nick Novosel, was a Croatian immigrant. He watched over fellow immigrants like Bonn, who worked in the Alle-Kiski Valley's coal mines.
“They had no family. My dad was very close to them,” said Galo, 75, of Bell Township. “My dad had a speakeasy. I carried two bottles of beer every day to (Bonn).”
Galo remembers Bonn's funeral, and where he was buried in Avonmore's West View Cemetery. On Wednesday, she joined with other community members in placing new markers at the graves of Bonn and Marko Domjanic, another immigrant coal miner.
Their grave sites had not been lost, but had gone unmarked for decades since their original markers disappeared not long after they died — Bonn on June 22, 1948, and Domjanic on April 22, 1951. The men were bachelors and are not known to have any descendants, Galo said. Their birthdates and ages when they died were not known.
A veteran's marker and flag was also placed for Bonn, who served during World War II.
The simple metal markers were donated by funeral home owner Kelly L. Corridoni. The Avonmore Veterans of Foreign Wars post arranged for the flag.
The markers came about after Galo and her sister, Carole Novosel, talked about the men and the condition of their resting places. It was something they had been aware of for a long time.
“It was always in the backs of our minds,” Galo said.
Novosel said the men are buried in two of eight plots that had been bought by their miners' union. The other six are empty.
Aside from their shared heritage and occupation, Bonn and Domjanic didn't know or associate with each other, Novosel said.
Novosel, 71, also remembers Bonn, from when she was 7 or 8 years old. “He was a very nice gentleman,” she said.
She got involved in the Bell Township Historical Society, and got to thinking about their graves.
“I thought (Bonn) deserved a flag and they both deserved a marker. That's what we did,” Novosel said. “Everybody should have a marker. No one should be forgotten.”
With just a few people on hand, the markers were placed at the head of the men's graves without pomp or circumstance. Small bouquets of artificial flowers were next to them.
While the locations of the graves were in the cemetery's records, the lack of markers meant that when flags were placed on veterans' graves, Bonn went unrecognized.
That won't be the case any longer. Every Memorial Day, a new flag will be placed at Bonn's grave, said Ludwig Sharek, commander of the Avonmore VFW post.
Bonn was a veteran, and deserves a flag, Sharek said. It's important, he said.
“He served his country and gave us what we have now: freedom,” he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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