Passed away peacefully on Monday, October 12, 2020 at the age of 82. Loving father of Kelly (Tim) Cole, Carrie (Derek) Byrne and Christie (Dave Blanchard) Kessler. Proud grandpa of Riley, Cael, Haylan, Keira and Henry. Preceded in death by his parents Frank and Gertrude and sister Marilyn. Also loved by other relatives and many friends.
John attended Sherman Elementary School and Steuben Junior High where he took accordion lessons. He graduated from Washington High School a semester early in 1955. After high school, John enlisted in the United States Air Force and served from September 1955 until August 1959. While in the Air Force he took a six-month intensive Russian language course at Syracuse University, after which he was issued a Top Secret security clearance. He was assigned to the USAF Security Service in Germany as a Russian Language Specialist/Radio Intercept Operator. He also served a two-month temporary duty in Turkey.
After his honorable discharge, John enrolled at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Math. He entered the information systems field starting as a computer programmer and later became a systems analyst, consultant and manager. He worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, St. Mary’s Hospital, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Golden Guernsey Dairy, finally retiring in July 2003.
While in the USAF, John obtained an amateur radio operator’s license. (K9SFJ) He also got a German license and operated their club station.
John also had a commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating, and he was a flight instructor and advanced ground school instructor. He also taught private pilot ground school at Marquette University, and served as the president of the Greater Milwaukee Flying Club.
He also liked to tinker, and took a home electronics repair course from Bell and Howell. John built two console color TVs from kits as well as various test and diagnostic equipment. For a short time he repaired TVs and other electronic equipment for friends.
For 12 years, John enjoyed working in community theater, both onstage and behind the scenes. Most recently, you could find him volunteering at Luther Manor, usually making popcorn on Wednesdays. He also loved singing with the Mount Carmel Lutheran Church choir, serving on the Milwaukee Police Department Auxiliary Police, attending USAF reunions, brandy Manhattans, and traveling the world to places like the Dominican Republic, Russia, Japan, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. He also loved singing with his son-in-law’s band, Paddygrass, and would hand out business cards for the band wherever he went.
John was also the king of bad “dad jokes,” one of his favorites being “I’ll see you the next time if not before.”
Visitation will be at the funeral home on Monday, October 19, 2020 from 9-11am. Funeral service at 11am. Masks are required. The service will also be live streamed.
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