Johnny Boy

You have to smile when a full-grown man prefers to call himself “Johnny Boy.” But when that man is 102 years old, as this Johnny Boy turns today, June 7, well, there isn’t a smile big enough to fit the occasion.
Johnny Boy is John Markarian, of West Pittston. He has earned the right to be called Reverend Markarian for he is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He’s also earned the right to be called Dr. Markarian for he has a PhD in Theology. And at Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon, they still call him President Markarian for he is the founding president of that institution of higher learning.
But at a luncheon today with family and friends, he’ll be simply Johnny Boy, a fun-loving, spritely, joking, loving father, grandfather, husband and friend.
My wife and I feel quite fortunate to fall into that last category. Johnny Boy is our friend.
I met him 12 years ago on a tennis court – yes, he was playing tennis at age 90 – and have spent countless hours enjoying his company.
I can share dozens and dozens of delightful Johnny Boy stories, and have several times in my columns and blogs. Here’s one of my favorites.
Five years ago, Johnny Boy and I were driving together to New Jersey to pick up copies of his memoir “The Thirsty Enemy,” a book he wrote and I edited. We weren’t long into our trip when we both needed to make a “pit stop.” When we got back into the car, he said, “My mother always used to say, ‘If a bean is a bean, what’s a pea?”
Before I could think of a response, he blurted out, “A great relief.”
Just what you’d expect from a guy called Johnny Boy.

Ed Ackerman