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Jack Whitney Mishler

Jack Whitney Mishler

West Des Moines

A veteran actor and "song and dance" man left us Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the age of 89, in Trinity, Florida.

Jack W. Mishler was born November 20, 1923, in Des Moines, Iowa, to Sarah (Sadie) Whitney Mishler and Glenn S. Mishler. He was a Roosevelt High School Graduate (1940), of which he was always proud. He attended Iowa State while studying business. When WWII broke out, he, as many others, answered the call to enlist. He chose the United States Army Air Force. He always, with his sense of comedy, said he enlisted because he wanted to wear the "crushed" hat, to which he took a liking. He became an Air Force pilot and was chosen to instruct Chinese Nationalists how to fly, when Chiang Kai-Shek sent over his elite squads to be taught. He was full of the humorous stories that came with that instruction.

When the war ended, he taught grade school for one year, and went on to graduate from Drake University. On December 26, 1948, he married Jeannette Dowel Lucas of Bedford, Iowa. From that marriage came four children: James Lucas; Sara Joann; John Whitney and Julia Anne.

His profession grew into movies and records. He lived in Bel Air, California, and worked with Mr. Branton, a well known movie producer, and returned to Des Moines to begin a distributorship in the record business. Being successful, he retired young and engaged in his love of golf, while playing all the main courses in the United States and other countries.

In a second marriage, he was a father figure to Blake and Tania. After living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Pebble Beach, California, he once again returned to Iowa. In the process of these years, he was a fixture at the Des Moines Playhouse, the Ingersoll Dinner Theatre, The Drama Workshop, and the Urbandale Community Theatre with fifteen years of appearances. These included everything from leading men To cameos as a barber in La Mancha and dancing waiter in Hello Dolly, a tap dancing Mr. Bigelow How to Succeed in Business, Harold Hill in The Music Man, the Emcee in Cabaret and his signature song of "Once in Love with Amy" from Where's Charlie?.

His last appearance was at the Playhouse in the role of Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie, which he called his "swan song".

In 1990, Jo Anna Holt and Jack met in the musical, Mame. Friendship, admiration and love of theatre blossomed into a marriage in 1991.

Jack is survived by his wife Jo Anna (Holt) Mishler, his daughter Sara (Mishler) and husband Stephen, his son John, daughter-in-law Sue Mishler, and his step-daughter Kim (Holt) Wells and husband Bob. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Molly, Nick, Jacklyn, Samantha, Lorena, and eight step-grandchildren: John, Olivia, Christina, Sophia, Conrad, Roberta, Winston and Michaela, and, yes, his wonderfully stubborn eleven year old beagle, Sadie.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Sarah and Glenn Mishler, his son James, his step-son Kurt Holt, his sister Jody (Mishler) Faulkner, and his daughter Julia Anne Mishler.

A church service will be given at the West Des Moines Christian Church, West Des Moines in the near future, and a special memorial program will be performed at the Playhouse in Spring 2013. In lieu of flowers, memorials in the name of Jack Misher can be sent to the Playhouse for the New Building Fund. Thank you.


Published in Des Moines Register on Jan. 22, 2013
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