A heroic reunion

With the groundbreaking of the John Marynowitz Gymnasium, two officers who made sacrifices in the line of duty will be linked forever.

Honoring heroes: Last Thursday, politicians, the Bustleton Bengals and community members broke ground a gymnasium to be named after John Marynowitz in Robert S. Hayes Memorial Park. On June 17, 1993, Robert Hayes and John Marynowitz were shot in the line of duty. Marynowitz suffered a shot to the head and was permanently disabled. Hayes was killed. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

As of a groundbreaking hosted by the Bustleton Bengals last week, officers Robert Hayes and John Marynowitz are reunited forever.

Politicians, the Bustleton Bengals, countless community members and others broke ground on a new gymnasium to be named after Marynowitz in Robert S. Hayes Memorial Park on Thursday. The more than $2 million project was in the making for seven years.

“Bob and John started the police academy together back in 1985, and ended their careers together in 1993,” said Mindy Marynotiwz, John’s wife, tearfully. “We here all know they’re heroes, but their names are always going to be together forever for the next generation and generations after to realize the heroes they were, and are.”

On June 17, 1993, both officers were shot in the line of duty while investigating a car on Limekiln Pike. Marynowitz suffered a shot to the head and was permanently disabled. Hayes was killed.

“They will be together forever,” Mindy said. “Hayes and Marynowitz.”

Mindy said John had grown up playing ball in the park, and they considered the gymnasium the “greatest honor.”

Marynowitz himself spoke at the end of the ceremony.

“We’re all a big family, the Marynowitz and Hayes family,” he said. “I’m so glad we’ll be together on this field for the rest of our lives, and for all of eternity.”

He thanked his family, the Bustleton Bengals and numerous officers, including Officer Jeff Campbell, whom he credited for saving his life.

“May the sacred heart of Jesus please pray for every police officer, firefighter and soldier who has died in the line of duty,” he said. “Sacred heart of Jesus, please pray for all their families left behind.”

Though it was an official endeavor for seven years, Councilman Brian O’Neill said the idea has existed for a decade. O’Neill’s office donated much of the cost, and the Bustleton Bengals raised more than $135,000 over the course of four or five years.

“To everyone involved, I just want to say thank you,” O’Neill said.

Some speakers couldn’t believe they had made the endeavor a reality.

“I grew up here in Bustleton and 50 years ago I played on these very fields, and the thought of having a gymnasium, we never even dreamt of it,” said Jack O’Hara, president of the Greater Bustleton Civic League.

The gymnasium is not yet open for public use as construction continues. O’Hara described the project as phase one of two for the park, with a playground being next.

The Bustleton Bengals have been fundraising for the project with a build a brick initiative, where residents can pay to have bricks that will be used in the park engraved with their names. The Bengals are a nonprofit youth organization focused on athletics.

State Sen. John Sabatina, State Rep. Martina White and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell were also in attendance.

“Every day that we come here and utilize these fields and this awesome new gym, it’s an opportunity for our community to come together,” White said. “It’s an honor to be standing next to the Marynowitz family.” ••

To participate in the brick fundraiser, visit bricksrus.com/order/bustletonbengals.