|From The Register-Mail register-mail.com 06/07/07:
Rovinski a man of service
Sailor 'found meaning in everything he did'
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
By JANE CARLSON
ROSEVILLE - Service defined Gary Rovinski's life, whether it was to his family, his church, his employer or his country.
Rovinski, 44, of rural Roseville, died Monday in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from head wounds sustained in a roadside bomb explosion around 11:30 a.m. Iraq time. He was a Navy Reservist serving with the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25 out of Fort McCoy, Wis. He arrived in Iraq in March and worked on a convoy security team, escorting supplies across the desert.
"What he believed, he lived, and what he lived, he shared with others," said the Rev. Gary Shank of Immanuel Baptist Church of Monmouth, where Rovinski attended services with his wife, Jen, and their daughters, CeCe, 13, and Michaela, 10.
The Rovinskis joined the church when they moved to the area in June 1997. Rovinski was a deacon there and taught Bible lessons at a weekly youth program, participated in a men's Bible study group and sang tenor in the choir that his wife directs.
"He was one of those guys that, as a pastor, you love to pastor," Shank said.
Rovinski spoke to the congregation in January before he left for training and for Iraq. Shank said Rovinski talked about his faith and his wishes that the congregation look out for his wife and daughters while he was away.
"They were the apple of his eye," Shank said.
Rovinski is the first Warren County casualty in the Iraq war and the third area serviceman to die from injuries sustained from roadside bombs since November. Sgt. First Class Kyle Wehrly of Galesburg died in Iraq in November, and Pfc. Caleb Lufkin died May 25 in Washington, D.C., after being wounded May 4 in Iraq.
After receiving the news of her husband's death around 2:30 Monday afternoon, Jen Rovinski called Shank.
That call set off a prayer chain in the tight-knit congregation. Word also spread quickly through the Monmouth and Roseville communities.
By nightfall, the Rovinski house in rural Roseville was packed with people from the church and from the surrounding towns, who came to the house offering tissues and food and support for the family, who do not have other relatives in the area.
"It wasn't enough for them just to pray," Shank said. "They wanted to come out."
Ken Allaman became good friends with Rovinski by singing in the choir with him at Immanuel Baptist Church. He received an e-mail from Rovinski three days before the Seabee's death, in which Rovinski thanked Allaman and others for their continued prayers and support. He told them he was at peace with everything that was happening in Iraq, because of his faith.
"We are all hurting," Allaman said.
Rovinski grew up in Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor's degree in studio art from College Misericordia. He served in the Gulf War as an Army optometry specialist and earned a master's degree in college student personnel from Miami University of Ohio. He was associate dean of students and director of residence life at Monmouth College from 1997 to 1999.
"He was sure of his convictions and sure of his purpose in life," said Bill Hart, a member of the Rovinski's church and spokesman for the family. "He found meaning in everything he did."
Hart said Rovinski was known for the compassion he showed inmates at Henry Hill Correctional Center, where he had worked as a corrections officer since 2000.
At the correctional center, Rovinski often volunteered for overtime and was always willing to back up his co-workers, said Chad Pederson of Abingdon, who worked second shift with Rovinski for more than five years.
"He was a very professional guy," Pederson said. "He wanted to do everything and try everything. He was a go-getter."
Pederson said the two of them would alleviate the stresses of their jobs by talking about their children, who took tumbling lessons together.
"He would just light up when he talked about them," Pederson said.
Rovinski enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 2002, after learning about the Seabees from co-workers.
"He wasn't afraid to go to Iraq," Hart said.
Angela Reimolds knew Rovinski from church and from Monmouth College, where she works in the admissions office. She said his commitment to his family and his work, as well to his religion, was apparent within the first few minutes she met him. She later saw him display a similar commitment to serving in the military.
"He felt an obligation and a desire to serve his country," Reimolds said. "He didn't have to re-enlist but he did it voluntarily and he did it with passion."