John Borek, 71, of Rochester, Texas, Died This Month of Leukemia
John Borek, former owner of The Village Green Bookstore in Rochester and champion for local arts, passed away this month at age 71 after succumbing to leukemia.
Borek had a dual role as theater director and artistic director of MuCCC, the multi-use community cultural center he created out of an old church on Atlantic Avenue. At MuCCCC, Borek fostered art while seeking out challenges.
Early Life and Education
John Borek’s life was dedicated to the arts. He was an accomplished writer, artist and community organizer renowned for his insightful observations of human nature. This combination of attributes made him a popular and likeable personality in the public eye.
He was also co-owner of Village Green Bookstore in Rochester, a groundbreaking store that combined coffee and books. There were an array of creative items such as gourmet popping corn, strawberry tea and Haagen-Dazs ice cream in its freezer.
He was also the founder of American Leadership Institute and Seminary, a degree-granting institution dedicated to equipping leaders through biblically based education. Additionally, he served as president emeritus of Liberty University from 1997-2005, making him a special guest at their Convocation on Monday as part of Global Focus Week celebrations. Liberty President Jerry Falwell welcomed him onto the stage during his introduction.
Within one week after selling Autocraft Bodywerks in South Austin, John Borek was faced with the need to launch his next venture.
He opened Jurassic Car Wash in Austin, Texas as a dinosaur-themed car wash.
His concept, he noted, is to let guests get their cars washed while being entertained by animatronic dinosaurs on the carwash lot.
His career as an Army officer included serving as Ground Surveillance Radar platoon leader on the Korean DMZ and Intelligence and Information Operations plans officer at US Central Command before and during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
He became a writer and performer, often performing his own material at the Multi-use Community Cultural Center. Additionally, he created an elaborate bus tour for Rochester Fringe Festival called “Museum of Johny,” which took him around Rochester telling his stories to audiences.
Achievements and Honors
John Borek had an extensive career in intelligence, both as a military officer and civilian. He served in numerous capacities, such as Ground Surveillance Radar platoon leader along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Borek also dedicated much of his time to supporting the arts in Rochester. He was active with several organizations, such as KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, where he would often create shows that focused on his personal experiences with leukemia.
He founded an organization to equip leaders with biblically-based education, which has received widespread acclaim and awards.
At age 58, Borek’s life took an unexpected turn: He began recording rap albums.
He had an interest in theater, too. As artistic director at Multi-use Community Cultural Center on Atlantic Avenue, he wrote and performed in some daring plays.
One such play, Moose Murders, has earned a reputation as one of the worst plays ever to hit Broadway – an opinion shared even by The New York Times arts section.
He often wrote books during downtime. His last project, “The Club Van Cortlandt,” a brief but poignant memoir of his freshman year at Columbia University, captured his imagination perfectly.
Only one week after selling Autocraft Bodywerks, his South Austin auto body repair shop that he started and expanded shortly after graduating high school, John Borek was driven to open another venture: a bookstore. This one was inspired by the dinosaurs living in his front yard who needed somewhere to live.
Born in Grand Rapids to Adam and Katherine Borek, he married Marie Edgerle after returning from WWII and they raised six children together. Surviving him are his wife Mary Anne (Joe) Lange, Barb Smith, Chuck Borek and Lori Borek; brothers Bernie George Vic Joe; in-laws Ed and Anna Edgerle; 14 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren; preceded in death by his parents along with many nieces and nephews.