KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When you see a yard sign for a political candidate, there is a good chance it came from Almar Printing in Waldo.
Sam Gromowsky owns Almar. He and his print shop have been a fixture in Waldo for more than 40 years.
"My wife and I have been married for 49 years,” Gromowsky said with a smile. “I tell everybody we move every six years but we never live more than five blocks off Wornall."
But Sam Gromowsky is better known for what he does for others more than the political signs he prints.
He delivers meals on wheels, volunteers for Operation Breakthrough, The Sullivan Center, Redemptorist Church and he and his wife used to foster babies for Catholic Charities.
Gromowsky has lived a fascinating life that began with loss and sadness.
His father, a Polish immigrant, died when Sam was 7 years old. His mother raised Sam and his five siblings until she went to a sanitarium after contracting tuberculosis.
The children were scattered to different relatives and homes. Sam grew up in an orphanage, then Boystown in Nebraska where he decided he wanted to become a printer.
"I know what it is like to go hungry,” he said. “My mother raised six kids on $60 a month. That is what she fed us on and it was really tough.”
Gromowsky also knows what it is like to grow up without family close at hand. His office tells the story of a man who loves spending time with his wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
"My family is the most important thing,” he said. “I tell people I am the luckiest man in the world."
After 40 years in the neighborhood, Growmowsky remains grateful for the chance to build a successful business.
"I had a customer who said 'Sam, you are always smiling all the time, why are you always smiling?’” Gromowsky said. “I said ‘I have to smile. You might be the one who sent the dollar that helped me through print school. I have to be nice. I am just repaying what has been given to me.’”
He has few regrets in life, with the exception of the fact he couldn’t remember what his father looked like.
But Gromowsky’s older brother helped clear that up.
“He said ‘Just look in the mirror,’” Sam said.
So the next time you glance at a yard sign promoting a political candidate, you might remember there could be a bit more behind it than politics.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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