Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 21, 2014, pg. 9
Joe Romanchuk (1927-2014) was certainly a colorful figure in Albion and Calhoun County politics for many years. His death on September 10 ended a long life of adventure and service to our community. He was a unique person, indeed. Joe served on the Albion City Council from 1963 to 1967, and subsequently served many years on the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners. His lengthy obituary just touched on the highlights of his long career and accomplishments. He was one of Albion’s dwindling remaining World War II veterans.
Joe was also generous to yours truly in supplying historical photographs in this column and in my books. He was able to make numerous identifications and supply helpful information to me, which our readers appreciated when the photographs were published. These included Albion High School football teams from the 1940s, Corning Glass Works baseball team photos from the 1950s, and of course projects he was involved in during the 1960s and 1970s.
One peculiar item however I’ll always remember Joe for was his "Romanchuk Dollars" he produced when he ran for Mayor of Albion in 1966. It was a close election—he lost by just 65 votes to Victor Burstein. Joe would ride around town encouraging people to vote for him, and then hand them a Romanchuk Dollar as a reminder. I was the recipient of two of these and I’m glad I saved them. In fact, one is illustrated on page 91 of my 2002 book "Albion in the 20th Century."
These dollars measure 161 x 72 mm., and are printed with black ink on one side, with green ink on the other. The text states, "Joseph Romanchuk, Mayor of Albion, Vote November 8, 1966. Vote for Experience, Leadership and Ability, Stretch Your Tax Bucks. Elected Romanchuk. "JOE" Fills the Bill." A picture of the candidate appears in the center.
Joe was not afraid to voice his positions, as we all know. Here is where the politics comes in. The Albion Evening Recorder had endorsed Joe’s opponent, Victor Burstein. On November 5, 1966 in a letters to the editor, Mayor Lyle Johnson (whom Joe had lost the 1964 mayoral election to by 94 votes) published an "open letter" in which he stated, "How do you mean to ‘Stretch our Tax Bucks? We did not have any suggestions from you on stretching the tax buck for 1966 because you did not attend the council work sessions when the 1966 budget was being prepared."
At the next Council meeting, Romanchuk brought up the letter with a letter of his own which he tried to present to the Council. Romanchuk accused Johnson of using the office of Mayor in the letter, and not as a private citizen. The council squelched Romanchuk’s protest by a 5 to 2 vote. The Recorder noted that someone in the audience was heard to remark "dictator" referring to the power held by Mayor Johnson, who was supporting Burstein. Such was the political atmosphere in Albion at that time. Joe lost the election by 1442 to 1377. With that he turned his eyes toward Calhoun County government, and the rest is history.
From our Historical Notebook this week we illustrate a Romanchuk Dollar. This is a fascinating souvenir item from this period Albion’s history. In fact, the family placed one in his casket at his funeral, which was well attended by many fine Albion people including Mayor Domingo. How many of our readers remember the Romanchuk Dollars? R.I.P. Joe Romanchuk. You will be remembered and missed by those who knew you.
One Romanchuk Dollar
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic