[caption id="attachment_6184" align="alignleft" width="420"] Francis and John hanging out together at Salina Presbyterian Manor.[/caption]
For the first time that anyone can recall, we have a set of twins living at Salina Presbyterian Manor.
John Komarek moved here in January from a senior community in Lindsborg, where he had lived for five years. He wanted to be closer to the family’s home place – a farm near Bavaria, Kan., west of Salina. “Big brother” Francis – technically, he’s five minutes older – moved here in August after a stay in our PATH® rehabilitation center.
“John being here influenced me to come,” Francis said. “I liked him being closer instead of going to Lindsborg to see him.”
The twins grew up on the farm, which has stood since their grandfather homesteaded there in 1869. He had immigrated from Germany at age 15. Francis recalled hearing that he got his first tractor in 1916 to plow and harvest the wheat. “My grandpa and dad were both threshermen.” (The twins also grew up hearing about a distant cousin who went on to fame in the music industry – see the related story.)
Surprisingly, Francis and John were the second set of twins born to their mother (they are fraternal). Sadly, the first twins lived only four days. The boys also had two older sisters, who both grew up to be school teachers.
Growing up, the brothers enjoyed hunting and fishing together, and they were active in 4-H. Francis has fond memories of holidays at the farm; Thanksgiving and Christmas usually turned into family reunions. Both boys attended Fort Hays Kansas State College, as it was known then, for two years. After that, their paths began to diverge.
Francis transferred to K-State, where he finished up his degree in agricultural engineering (he sports a purple K-State bag on his walker today). He went on to work for the Soil Conservation Service for 31 years. Francis liked school – he is proud to have attended Boys State in Wichita during high school – but John was less academic. “The Army got me,” John said, for six years. After the service, John came back to the 900-acre family farm. Francis brags that his brother became an expert welder, and said he was good at playing guitar and yodeling.
As the twins got older, Francis’s son, Jim, took over the farm. He lives nearby with his wife, Emily.
Francis and John say they’re both settling in nicely at Salina Presbyterian Manor, and they’re happy to be able to see each other every day again if they wish. “It’s a good place to live,” Francis said.
'Cousin Bert' was world-famous kin
Twins Francis and John Komarek grew up hearing that they were related to a songwriter who composed hits for some of the biggest pop artists of our time.
The boys’ grandfather’s sister was the mother of Bert Kaempfert. Bert was born in 1923 in Hamburg, Germany.
According to Wikipedia, Bert had studied music and was already performing with an orchestra when he was conscripted into Hitler’s German Navy band during World War II.
After the war, Bert went on to compose easy-listening and jazz music and tour with his own big band.
An arranger and producer, he hired a little-known English group called The Beatles as the backing band for singer Tony Sheridan for his album “My Bonnie.”
These became the Beatles’ first commercially released recordings.