Archived Story

Who were John and Carolyn?

Published 10:30am Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Niles Daily Star

John and Carolyn Tarwacki still seemed like newlyweds though the two married in 2007. They shared a love of music, both were employed by Quinlan and Fabish, a music company with various locations, one of which was in Stevensville, where the two worked. And they shared similar experiences.

Both seemed to have a unique relation to each other and both are described by friends as having the kindest of hearts.

The minute they married, says longtime friend and Niles High School band director Steve Gruver, “it wasn’t just Carolyn. It was John and Carolyn. They were together.”

Just who John and Carolyn Tarwacki were is coming into focus as more  friends and family remember the couple found dead in their home in the 900 block of Carberry Road on Friday.

Prior to the vigil, organizer, former classmate and friend Mike Salisbury remembered Carolyn as “an unbelievable person.”

“She had the right words” to lift a person out of a tough time, he said, and he called her “the definition of a true friend.”

Reaction to the news of the Tarwackis’ death has been shock and disbelief at such a brutal crime being committed against a couple so dearly loved by everyone who knew them.

“Basically everyone is in awe still,” Salisbury said, wondering how or why anyone would want to hurt the recently married couple.

Salisbury found out the news via Facebook. Police had been working the scene for much of Friday, but news spread over the social networking site quickly and he said he’s continued to keep in contact with friends through the site.

“I just ran in to her a week and a half ago,” he said. “It was one of those ‘hi,’ ‘bye’ things where I thought we’d have time later on.”

Salisbury said organizing the candlelight vigil for the couple was something that grew the minute it was put into action and by Monday morning he expected a large turnout at the Four Flags Apple Festival Fairgrounds.

He said he already had 32 candles set aside to light for those who couldn’t attend.
“They were just the perfect match,” he said. “If there was a definition of soul mate, they were it.”

Gruver echoed those sentiments.

The two played in bands together and also worked together. Aside from Tarwacki’s job, which brought her to 15 school districts each week picking up and dropping off instruments in need of repairs and delivering other necessities to band students, Gruver said Carolyn was a presence, someone who went out of her way to help bring something she loved so much – the gift of music – and put it in students’ hands.

She helped Gruver run band camps and other activities.

When she walked into the room, Gruver said, he’d have children get up in the middle of class to greet her with enthusiasm and hugs.

“Everything she did was about the kids,” he said. “She’s going to be sorely missed.”
Gruver has known the couple since they got together and Carolyn for more than 10 years. His children call them “Aunt Carolyn” and “Uncle John.”

“She always put others in front of herself,” he said. “She was a great, great friend.”
Her husband was quite the match, Gruver said.

“John had the same pleasant, happy, bubbly, personality – just like Carolyn,” he said, of the former nuclear powered submarine engineer for the United States Navy.

“They were the definition of soul mates,” he said. “That’s what they were.”

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