Dignified ceremony: Navy veteran granted final wish of horse-drawn hearse

  • Two draft horses stand in front of Kostanski Funeral Home in Montague on Friday, Dec. 30. The horses were hitched to an old-fashioned black hearse carrying the body of Paul “Blackie” Deskavich, who died Christmas Day at the age of 90. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Draft horses pull an old-fashioned hearse during a funeral for a former WWII veteran through Montague Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. Contributed photos. Contributed photo—Kostanski Funeral Home

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/3/2017 10:22:47 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Two draft horses stood hitched to an old-fashioned black hearse outside Kostanski Funeral Home — a tribute to the dying wish of a decorated World War II veteran who died in late December.

Above, an overcast sky watched over about 75 people in the funeral procession as they followed the hearse through town Friday during the remembrance of Paul “Blackie” Deskavich, a South Deerfield native. Deskavich died on Christmas Day at age 90.

Karen Larabee, co-owner of the funeral home along with Bill Kostanski, said the hearse led the way from the funeral home at 1 Kostanski Square to Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, where it stopped for a funeral before going to Our Lady of Czestochowa Cemetery.

“It followed the roads down in procession, from the funeral home to the church, and then in procession again from the church to the cemetery,” Larabee said, noting that the hearse was arranged by Deskavich’s family per the late veteran’s wishes, acquired through an agency in Amherst.

According to his obituary, Deskavich joined the Navy after graduating from Deerfield High School, and “attained the rank of Seaman First Class. He received the American Theatre, European Theatre, Pacific Theatre, Good Conduct and the World War II Victor Medals.”

After the war, he married “the former Helen G. Cislo on June 19, 1946.” Cislo died almost exactly four years before her husband, Christmas Eve 2012.

You can reach Andy Castillo at:

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
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