John Lokitis Jr. was one of the last remaining residents in Centralia PA. He lived there from birth until 2009, when he was evicted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Lokitis lived next to his parents on Park Street, near the mine fire burn zone. This was also just a few hundred feet west of the Centralia 1866 green bench, the Veterans’ Memorial, and the Centennial Vault time capsule.
John Lokitis Jr. was known as a vocal spokesman for Centralia Pennsylvania’s remaining residents. He fought for the town to have its ZIP code reinstated when it was revoked in 2002, even putting the ZIP code, 17927, on one of the town’s green benches.
Most notably, he appeared in the 2007 documentary film, The Town That Was. The documentary chronicles the history of Centralia and tells the stories of its remaining resident. Interviews with Lokitis are featured heavily in the movie.
John Lokitis cared deeply for Centralia PA and its people – both past and present. He would often be found painting the town’s benches, mowing now empty lots, and tending to the cemeteries within the borough. He also refurbished many of the town’s old Christmas decorations at his own expense, and put these up at the intersection of Route 42 and 61 for the holidays.
To some, Lokitis’ passion for his hometown defy logic. For example, he would commute approximately 120 miles round trip to his job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. However, when one considers the pride that is often felt for one’s birthplace, Lokitis’ connection to Centralia makes sense.
Sadly, in 2009 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania served John Lokitis Jr. with an eviction notice. Years earlier, in 1992, the state had taken his property via eminent domain. Now, as the owner of the parcel, it was asking him to leave Centralia Pennsylvania forever.
With a heavy heart, Lokitis complied with the order. Though, he didn’t go far and still leaves nearby. His home and his parents’ house were later demolished in 2010.
The eviction of the John Lokitis brought to a close one of the last chapters in Centralia’s story. Today, the only clear reminder of his legacy there is the foundation of the home on Park Street where he once lived.