John Walter Spiech (1939 - 2016)

14 entries | 2 photos
  • "My sincere condolences to the family. May the God of all..."
    - Lori
  • "Janice Sorry to learn of John's passing. My thoughts and..."
    - Brett Wilson
  • "I was lucky enough to work with John at Juneau-Douglas High..."
    - Jan Anderson
  • "I'm so surprised and sorry to hear of John's passing. He..."
    - Ellen Canapary
  • "Jan: I'm so sorry to hear of John's passing. Please accept..."
    - Gary Bader
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Lt. Col. John Walter "Jack" Spiech (US Army, Ret.), of Paw Paw, Michigan, died of cancer on July 27, 2016, at his home in Juneau, Alaska. He was born March 2, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois. John graduated from Paw Paw High School in 1957 and Western Michigan University in 1962, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, geography, and secondary education. After college, John served four years as a platoon leader and commander of a battalion from the 68th Armored Regiment in Germany and Vietnam. In Vietnam he participated in two campaigns, earning several decorations, including the Army Commendation Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

While on reserve duty in the 1960s, John taught science and geography for four years in the Michigan public schools. After returning to active duty, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Broadcast and Film Communication from the University of Alabama and a Specialist in Education degree from Ball State University. He worked as a film producer for the US Army Command Information Unit in Washington, DC; as a public affairs officer in Germany; and as an assistant professor of broadcasting at the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. After retiring from the Army in 1986, he taught for two years in Nevada and for fourteen years in the Juneau School District.

John married Janice Amy McGowan of Lawrence, Michigan, in 1969. In 1988, John and Janice moved to Juneau, Alaska. John loved living in Alaska, fishing, learning, creating original jewelry, and spending time with his best friend, Adam. He was devoted to his family. John's friends will remember him enjoying a Rainier beer at his usual spot in Louie's bar in Juneau. Everyone in Douglas will remember him for the jewelry he gave all of his friends. He never sold it but just about every woman he knew has at least one piece.

John is survived by his wife, Janice Spiech (Juneau, AK); ex-wife Georgia Detwiler (Gobles, MI); daughter Deborah Spiech (Juneau, AK); daughter Rebecca Brill (Orlando, FL); son David Spiech (Noblesville, IN); son Todd Spiech (Juneau, AK); grandchildren Jimmie, Adrienne, Sarah, Natasha, Noah, Adam, Zack, and John; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Irene Spiech; his sister Patricia Spiech; his daughter-in-law Luann Spiech; and his grandson Kelvin.

A Celebration of Life potluck will be held at the Sandy Beach log cabin shelter on Douglas Island in Juneau on Saturday, August 27th, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided. Stop by and toast with a Rainier and share stories.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Aug. 17 to Sept. 15, 2016