Quirk, John Joseph,
was a Purple Heart
war hero, but a prouder husband, father, grandpa and uncle. Born in Chicago on 11/22/24, "Jack" was the fourth child of Thomas and Mary (Cooke) Quirk's ten. He cherished his brothers Mike, Tom, Jim, Bill and Dan, and adored his sisters Aileen (Stonich), Theresa (Lewandowski), Mary (O'Connor) and Kate (McNamee). In Oak Park, Illinois, he was an altar boy and grade-schooler at St. Giles Catholic Church. At Fenwick High School he was a weight-class boxing champion before graduating with honors from Chicago's prestigious St. Ignatius High.
Drafted into the army the day after his graduation, PFC Quirk earned his Purple Heart at the battle of Anzio, Italy, in 1944. He took part in three amphibious "D-days". Cities like Rome, Lyon, Heidelberg and Munich were freed during his two-year march. With his unit, the famed 45th Division "Thunderbirds", John helped take Nuremberg and its Stadium on 4/20/45 (Hitler's last birthday) and liberated 38,000 prisoners at the Dachau Concentration Camp on 4/29/45 (Hitler's last full day on Earth). They captured Salzberg, Austria, where he spent the night beneath Richard Strauss's piano, and Berchtesgaden (home of Hitler's "Eagle's Nest") in the waning days of the war. PFC Quirk was also picked to guard high-ranking members of the demoralized German generals at the preliminary German Surrender, signed at Haar, near Munich, Germany 5/5/45.
Back in Chicago, he returned to normal life, and on 4/30/49 he married Joyce Kilgallon, whom he ever after called "My Bride!" Their 8 children include Murray, Joseph, Julianne, Kieran, Denise, Jeannine, Theresie and Dan, who all earned college degrees, especially due to his and Joyce's academic support and encouragement.
Most precious to John were the "Sweet16" grandchildren including: Brendan, Noelle, Audrey and Evan Quirk; Kevin (1982-2004), Katie (Mrs. Jason Wexler), and Kyle Kipper; Jack Baillot; Allison, Andy and Aaron Arnold; and Brian, Rory, Patrick, Russell and Rodney Bornhop III).
John and Joyce also loved daughters-in-law Joanne (Poggi) Quirk and Lorianne Brooks; and sons-in-law Terry Kipper, Alan Arnold, Rodney Bornhop Jr., and Pierre Baillot.
Uncle John included 64 "Quirk side" children and nine more "Kilgallon side" nephews and nieces. He dearly loved all 73, as well as their parents, related or in-law.
In their 61 years of married life John and Joyce journeyed from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana, back to Oak Park and then Mundelein, Illinois, before moving west to Orange County, California, in 1963.
John and Joyce were devout Catholics and unselfishly shared their faith with others. They taught CCD classes, mentored engaged couples, and helped on retreats, especially at St. Callistus Parish in Garden Grove. They stood as Godparents and Confirmation sponsors. Their home was as open to church groups as to relatives, neighbors, and friends. Their children and grandchildren continue that legacy as lay leaders, singers, altar boys, and hospitable hosts.
John did not have a single, continuous occupation, yet sometimes worked two jobs to support his large family. In California he sold heavy construction equipment and lumber, and was a union ironworker for a short time until injured. He also ran three small businesses and taught maintenance business classes for Central Orange County ROP. He was loved by his ROP students, some of whom established successful small businesses based on his tutelage. His best "business" partner, of course, was Joyce.
John was at heart a poet. He immortalized loved ones, especially the grandchildren upon their birth, through his beautiful, loving or witty poetry. And he loved a good laugh, so he enjoyed playing tricks on family or friend. At times without prompting, he'd burst into song, usually from the 1940s or Sinatra ("That's Life" was a favorite). He had a hunger for the news, and read the heady works of historians, philosophers, and theologians as well as scripture. He was a passionate debater of any opposite view, even if he secretly sided with his debate opponent, because he enjoyed the colloquy, almost at much as he did licorice.
Generous to a fault, he would give you the shirt off his back. Even though he was quite content with simple things, he could roll out a spectacular feast; always a warm host and a most appreciative guest.
After years of living in the shadow of the Big A, John and Joyce traded ballpark for the beach and moved to San Clemente in 2007, and finally to Capistrano Beach in 2009. "John's Joyce" died on 3/15/11.
Aptly named, "Mr. QUIRK" was unique and unusual, intellectual and easy, enigmatic and unforgettable. Read more about John at http://www.oconnormortuary.com/obituaries
Services: Sat. 10/13, 10 AM St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church, Dana Point; with Military Honors immediately following, and an "Irish" reception too.