Authorities have confirmed the man struck and killed Tuesday night on Harshberger Road in Upper Yoder Township in Cambria County, was 71-year-old Joseph Varmecky. The Coroner says Varmecky was hit by a vehicle. The District Attorney tells us State Police are investigating the crash and are waiting for toxicology reports. Varmecky lived alone and was unable to drive. Many in that area knew he walked wherever he went, unless he found a friend offering him a ride around town. We met with some friends of Varmecky and learned more about his life and the legacy he leaves behind.
After speaking with members of the Johnstown Community, Joseph Varmecky made a lasting impression on everyone he met. (See video for footage of Varmecky from 2014) His house in Upper Yoder Township was destroyed by fire. Members within the Community and Local Charity Groups helped build him a new home. It took Volunteers four days to rebuild Varmecky’s home on Swank Street and although legally blind, deaf and mute, Varmecky was known to be quite the builder himself. One could say his specialty was building bird houses. Mike Hamacek, a friend of Varmecky’s saying: “I knew him from back in the Eighties. He worked for a local construction company and a bunch of us in the area worked with him. He was an amazing guy, a really good Carpenter. Loved to do a lot of woodworking and stuff like that. I just got to know him good over the years.”
However, Hamacek said he wasn’t shocked. Streets in the areas where he often walked don’t have many sidewalks. Hamacek saying: “I was devastated but I kinda thought in my mind that something like this might happen because he was walking on the streets a lot and it was hard for him to see.”
Many who knew Varmecky expressed sorrow after learning about his death. Hamacek saying: “One thing I thought this morning is at least he will hear what people are saying now. Now that hes gone, he will have his hearing, he will have his eyesight good, his hips wont be bad anymore, he’ll be in good shape again.”
There is one Bird House by Joseph Varmecky available for purchase at Bantlys Hardware Store, the same store he made good friendships as well as collected his tools for his manual labor. Hamacek, in closing: “Joseph Varmecky’s memory will be kept alive through those in the area and within his woodwork.”