Carolyn and John Tarwacki, lifelong Michiana residents, are remembered as Christian, musically inclined parents with strong ties to the Niles community. Cliff Reppart, their wedding photographer, called them "good human beings" at the vigil Monday.
Carolyn and John Tarwacki, lifelong Michiana residents, are remembered as Christian, musically inclined parents with strong ties to the Niles community. Cliff Reppart, their wedding photographer, called them "good human beings" at the vigil Monday.

Archived Story

Soul mates’ remembered by hundreds at vigil Monday

Published 10:32am Tuesday, February 9, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

Niles band director Steve Gruver said Carolyn Tarwacki, a Niles grad, always went the extra mile to help students.

“She always took it one step further,” he said. “She was always there to help kids out if they couldn’t afford an instrument. It wouldn’t be uncommon for her to find out about a kid who couldn’t afford a clarinet and all of a sudden there was an old, used clarinet that was refurbished with the kid’s name on it. And there was no questions asked. That was the kind of person she was.”

Edna Mutchler, who has sent three of her children through the Niles band program, said Tarwacki will be greatly missed by the students and parents.

“She certainly loved music. That was definitely her passion,” Mutchler said. “For every band competition, she was (Gruver’s) right hand woman. I don’t know how on earth the void will be filled, because she just did so much.”

It was appropriate that the crowd of more than 200 people at Monday night’s candlelight vigil for slain Niles residents John and Carolyn Tarwacki were gathered around and facing a circle of Niles band members.

Carolyn Tarwacki, who was the school service representative for the music education company Quinlan and Fabish in Stevensville, was a cornerstone of the Niles High School band program. Her husband was a customer service representative for the same company.

The Niles pep band skipped its performance at Project Graduation night to be at the vigil. Around 100 band members were there, many hugging, crying and shivering in the bitter cold temperatures at the Four Flags Apple Festival Fairgrounds.

The Tarwackis will also be remembered as a couple that was madly in love and let that love spill out toward others.

“They are the definition of soul mates,” said Mike Salisbury, who organized the vigil. “They were it. They were so loving and caring for everybody. This is not something you expect to happen to these two people.”

Julie and Richard Sells, friends of the Tarwackis for more than 20 years, were still in shock.
“Their whole family was just wonderful, just very warm, generous, caring,” Julie said with tears welling up in her eyes.

Mercedes Kelly, a student at Niles High School, said the couple was like family to her.
“She was like my second mom, and John was like my second dad,” Kelly said, fighting back tears. “She was an amazing person, and she would go out of her way for anybody. She was just a sweetheart and so easy to talk to.”

With the shock still settling in and wounds still very fresh for many in the community, the people gathered at the vigil sang hymns and prayed for peace.

“Two truly amazing people have been taken from us,” a woman prayed. “We thank you they are in your sweet embrace. We ask that you hold us in your embrace as well. Help us to find peace.”

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