October 6, 1930 – October 27, 2018
Walter “Wally” Cihomsky was born on October 6, 1930, at home in Perth Amboy, NJ, to Peter and Sophie Cihomsky, who had come to the United States from Russia around the time of Russian Revolution.
Wally grew up during the Depression in a section of Perth Amboy nicknamed Chicken Town, because many of the poor immigrant families had chickens, pigs and other livestock so their families had a supply of food. It was a hard life for Wally, especially when his mother died when he was just 15. He went to live with his sisters Anna and Olga in New York City and also worked on a farm in New York state as part of a summer youth program. In 1947, at age 17, Wally enlisted in the US Navy and served on the USS Worcester, a light cruiser in the Sixth Fleet.
While Wally’s ship was stationed in the Mediterranean in 1950, the Korean War erupted and the Sixth Fleet was sent to Korea. Wally served as a turret gun operator during the Inchon Invasion and was discharged in November 1951, having served his four years.
Back in Perth Amboy he met Marie Benyola of Hopelawn, and the pair began dating. Wally began attending The Church of Jesus Christ with Marie and was baptized in February 1954. Tthe couple was married later that year on Thanksgiving Day.
The following September their first child, Sandra Lynn, was born in 1955, and in June of 1958 the first of three boys was born, Daniel Walter; followed in 1963 by John Mark and in 1966 by Steven Joseph.
Wally was a tool and die maker by trade and worked in several machine shops in New Jersey, including Security Steel. For 27 years he worked at Ethicon in Sommerville, NJ, a division of Johnson & Johnson, where Wally worked on the machines that made needles and sutures until his retirement.
Wally was ordained a minister in the church in 1979, and he became known for his heartfelt preaching and smooth singing voice. He was often asked to sing On the Wings of a Dove at meetings and church-wide campouts and conferences, and the song became a church favorite.
In the 1970s and 80s, Wally traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard, visiting Native American tribes, preaching the gospel, delivering food, and helping with various projects.
Wally was known for his generosity, often helping those in need financially as well as visiting the sick, whether in the hospital or at home, at any time of the day or night, no matter the distance. He was also generous to mechanics, furniture delivery men, anyone he felt worked hard and deserved recognition.
Wally and Marie retired in 1989 to move to Arizona to assist in the church’s work on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. To supplement their income, he and Marie worked at a storage facility for several years, and Wally also worked at a small tool and die shop teaching the younger workers the skills of the trade. In 1993, Wally and Marie became grandparents with the birth of their granddaughter, Gabriella.
Wally, along with Marie, visited the San Carlos Reservation almost every other week for several decades until his health worsened. He was always faithful in visiting members of the reservation when they were sick in the hospital in Phoenix, and he and Marie would often have their visiting families stay in their home instead of having to make the drive back to the reservation.
Despite his excellent physical health, Wally was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2016, and battled with that affliction as it progressively worsened over the next two years. Wally passed away the evening of Saturday, October 27, 2018. It was a sweet, peaceful transition as his family surrounded him singing hymns. After finishing the last verse of Amazing Grace, Wally was transferred, as he liked to say, into the Heavenly Kingdom.
He was preceded in death by his mother Sophie and father Peter; his sisters Ann Fleming, Olga Brigante and Francis Cihomsky; and his brothers John Prishavalko and Mike Cihomsky.
Wally is survived by his wife, Marie Cihomsky; his children, daughter Sandra and her husband Michael Flood; son Dan Cihomsky; son John and his wife Theresa Cihomsky and granddaughter Gabriella; son Steven and his wife Christina Cihomsky; and step-grandson Walter Tang. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service for Wally will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 12, 2019, at The Church of Jesus Christ in Mesa, AZ. He will also be honored with a military ceremony on Monday, January 14, at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.