FF Who Posed For Calendar Takes Own Life
Jack Slivinski, 31, a Philadelphia firefighter as he posed in front of the Logan Circle fountain
Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix
June 27, 2011
For Philadelphia firefighters, John “Jack” Slivinski Jr. was family; he followed his father into an elite rescue squad. When he got in hot water for posing shirtless for a charity calendar, his buddies rallied around him.
On Sunday, those friends and colleagues were stunned and shaken when news spread of Slivinski’s death at 31. The former Marine had been found dead at his Lawndale home Saturday, reportedly by his father, known as Jack Sr. Police and his colleagues said the cause was suicide.
“If you or your family members were in danger, this was the kid you’d want showing up at your house,” said Mike Kane, an executive board member at International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22.
“He gave you 110 percent, whether he was washing dishes or going down a smoky hallway,” Kane said. “When I heard yesterday morning, I had to sit down. It took my legs out.”
Slivinski posed shirtless in front of the fountain in Logan Circle for “Nation’s Bravest,” a charity calendar. He was suspended in April, but was allowed to return to Rescue 1 after a meeting with Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
“All of that was over,” Ayers said Saturday.
“As always, any loss like this is devastating, not only to his family but to his team members,” Ayers said. “We’re asking that the city say their prayers as well.”
Kane, along with a firefighter at Rescue 1, also said the calendar controversy had blown over. Slivinski had been troubled for several weeks over personal problems, said one firefighter at Rescue 1, who asked not to be identified.
Slivinski’s father is still an active firefighter. The father also had served in Rescue 1, and the son slept in his old bunk.
“They were inseparable. They did everything together,” the firefighter said.
In 2004, a friend of Slivinski’s, Lt. Derrick Harvey, died when he went into a burning house to help Slivinski and another firefighter. A friend said Slivinski kept a small memorial to Harvey in his home, using Harvey’s helmet.
He had a knack for making perfect pizza dough, a skill honed in his youth, and in his off hours he worked at the pizza oven at the King’s Oak at the Piazza at Schmidts. A manager at the restaurant declined to comment.
Slivinski had been planning to donate his share of the calendar proceeds to a fund for firefighters’ widows.
“He had the most contagious smile,” said Katherine Kostreva, the calendar’s publisher. She said she had talked to him the day before he died. “We were talking about a fund-raiser in September. He was looking forward to it.”
The calendar is due out in August, Kostreva said. She said she would let the family decide whether Slivinski’s picture would appear.
Besides his father, he is survived by his wife, Carla; his mother, Gerry; and a sister, Jennifer Wysocki.
A viewing will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Burns Funeral Home, 9708 Frankford Ave. The funeral will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Timothy’s Church. Burial will be in Westminster Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Local 22 Firefighters Widow Fund, 415 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia 19123.