This column lost a good friend this week, Vernon “Komar” Craig of Wilmot, Ohio.
For many years Komar was two people. By day he managed the Alpine-Alpa cheese store and clock shop appearing as a mild-mannered cheese-maker, full of smiles and stories. But in the evening and on special occasions he became Komar, wearing his turban, silk pantaloons and doing feats that placed him in the Guinness Book of World Records. He at one time held the record for the longest fire walk in the world, striding through white-hot coals in his bare feet. Another time he held the record for the longest time spent lying on a bed of nails.
He made such an impression on the Guinness Book people that they included him in their hall of fame along with The Beatles Paul McCartney. Statues of Komar can be found in Guinness Museums in many parts of the world. In fact I was there when Guinness unveiled the Komar statue at the Niagara Falls, Canada museum. Komar was also there demonstrating his skills by lying on a bed of nails while people stood on top of his chest.
Why did he do it? It started out as a way for him to help publicize the needs of the mentally challenged. He was also instrumental in the very first special Olympics founded by the Kennedy Family.
Komar and I became friends over the years and he was always quick to volunteer to assist me each year when we would unveil a new “One Tank Trips” booklet at the Sportsman Show at the Cleveland IX Center.
Vernon “Komar” Craig passed away this week. He was a very special Ohioan. I shall miss him.
Ironically I had just finished writing a chapter about Vernon Craig in a new book I had just finished writing.
NEW BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED
Gray & Co., Publishers of Cleveland announced this week that they will publish my latest book, “Tales From The Road” late this spring.
“Tales From The Road” is a memoir that Gray and Company Publisher David Gray asked me to write. The book tells behind-the-scenes stories about my long-running One Tank Trips Program on Fox 8 Television. It will introduce you to some of the unforgettable people I met along the way like Vernon Craig as well as recall what it was like coming of age on and off television in the last fifty years of the twentieth century.