“John probably did more behind the scenes than all the rest of us did in front of the scenes,” said Chuck McLinden, board president for the past five years.
“I can’t really put into words all that we lost from the fair board when we lost him,” he added. “He had a lot of history tucked away in his mind, and he had a lot of the ways we did business tucked away in his mind.
“He handled so many things. We miss him, we really do.”
That sentiment is widely shared. Vida Bartel, a board member for 12 years, including stints as president and fair manager, admitted she took the news of Reznicek’s death hard.
“Sometimes you get angry at God for doing what he does, but you can’t change it,” she said.
In his role as secretary, Reznicek took accurate, concise minutes of every board meeting—missing maybe one, if any, of the 13 meetings held each year, to Bartel’s recollection.
But his contributions as treasurer have created the most challenging void. His official duties ranged from writing the checks, to depositing revenue, to overseeing details such as ensuring that the ticket booth was properly staffed during the fair, and providing adequate change for ticket sellers.
“There were a lot of things John did—and he just handled them,” McLinden said. “He didn’t bother everybody else with it, he just took care of it.”
Added Bartel: “He was always meticulous, with accuracy—which lent itself to being a good financial manager. And he was always looking for ways to save money whenever we could.”
Beyond the job-related tasks, Reznicek also served the board as its financial conscience.
“He became involved with the fair when it didn’t have any money to spend on anything,” McLinden said. “In the past few years we had gained some cash and we were able to do some things.
“He always did a really good job of reminding me that we had the money, yes, but we had to be careful with it. It wasn’t an endless pot that we could spend on anything we needed.”
Bartel said Reznicek was a great ambassador for the fair in the public arena, and had a particular interest in making the fair attractive to kids, whether they were 4-H members or not.
“He was a strong proponent of keeping a carnival for kids,” Bartel said. “He had none of his own, but he loved children and was always a proponent: ‘Let’s try our best to find something for kids.’ That was strong with him.”
Reznicek and wife Helen would have celebrated 40 years of marriage last month. She said her late husband admired acquaintances who contributed their time to public causes. He made that a priority for himself, too, “because he felt it was important.”
“We didn’t have children,” she said, “so he never served on a school board or anything like that, but he was always willing to serve (in other settings).”
Reznicek was employed by Irv Schroeder County Motors in Hillsboro for more than 30 years—25-plus as business manager and the last five in sales.
Away from the job, he invested his business and accounting skills with a variety of civic and church boards, including Marion County Lake, the Knights of Columbus, the Father Kapaun Guild, Rural Water District, Ducks Unlimited, and Quail Forever.
Reznicek also served on the board of the Kansas Fairs & Festivals Association as a representative of the county fair board.
“He was drawn to (service) in almost every aspect of his life,” Helen Reznicek said. “His mother made the statement when he passed away that he shared himself so much. He really did.”
And he never shared himself half-heartedly.
“The way I get it, everything he set his mind to and had his hand in, he was committed to,” McLinden said. “It didn’t matter what it was—he gave his all.”
One of the Reznicek’s subtle but lasting contributions was the way he connected with the people with whom he worked.
“For me, I just really miss his person—his calm responses to things,” Bartel said. “He never got rattled over little things. I appreciated his kindness toward others and his willingness to step up and help others.
“I could call him at home, day or night, and it didn’t matter,” she added.
Said McLinden: “He became my friend, he really did. It was neat to be around him. I always looked forward to be able to sit down with him and talk about the fair, and everything related to that.
“The morning I found out he passed away, it was like I lost a friend, not just an associate.”