John Jack CONOVALOFF
(February 20, 1920 - May 17, 2008)
John Jack Conovaloff, 88, was born and died in Arizona. He is one of the last West Valley Russian-American farmers in the Tolleson area. He graduated from Pendergast Elementary and Tolleson Union High Schools and attended Phoenix College. At Tolleson High he was on the basketball team and starred in the class play.
He is survived by his wife Anna, 90, his sister Anna Varonin of La Mirada CA, four children (two sons Andy in Sun City, and Jack in Avondale, and their wives; and two daughters Elaine in Phoenix and Kathy Baghdanov in Vancouver WA), four grandchildren, 3 nephews and 3 nieces. His only two brothers Dan and Pete died before him. All attended Pendergast and Tolleson High schools.
He called himself "J. John" because two other distant relatives also named John Conovaloff (John L. and Johnny) were his neighbors in the Russian agricultural colony settled by his parents and other immigrants in the 1910s on 83rd Ave, between McDowell and Thomas Roads.
By 1920 the Russians occupied 4 villages on over 8 square miles along 83rd and 75th avenues from McDowell Road to Northern Avenue before most moved to California during the depression after WWI. His family remained. John was anointed to be the presbyter, a lay-minister, of his congregation in the 1980s, and he served up to 2002 when the Tolmachoff Cowboys ordered him to stop.
Before farming full-time in Arizona, John moved to Southern California were he met and married Anna Andrew Shubin on Dec 7, 1941. Their church wedding was in a “black out” and held at night because Pearl Harbor had just been attacked. He became a pilot and set a height record for a type of towed glider. During WWII he worked a McDonald Douglas in Santa Monica CA as the night supervisor, and was in charge of repairs for President F.D. Roosevelt's plane (now called Air Force One). He served duty as a conscientious objector near Tucson, Arizona.
In Arizona, a public viewing will be held at Menke Funeral Home, 12420 N 103rd Ave. (1 block south of Grand Ave), Sun City, Arizona on Wednesday May 28, from 4 pm to 6 pm.
In California, the Russian Molokan-Jumper funeral will be held in the Los Angeles area. Wake will be at the Russian Molokan Cemetery Chapel, 7201 East Slauson Ave, City of Commerce, CA on Thursday May 29 from 5 pm to 9 pm (prayer at 8 pm), and burial Friday May 30 from 10 am to 1 pm. A memorial service and traditional meal will be held Friday evening May 30 at Dom Malitvee (Orloffs), 515 Fourth Avenue, La Puente CA from 5 pm to 10 pm. John’s parents and relatives are also buried at the Slauson cemetery.
Donations can be made to the "Church of Spiritual Molokans of Arizona, Inc.", 5310 W. Missouri Ave., Glendale AZ 85301.