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John Richard "Jack" HADLEY

Jack Hadley, a longtime Santa Rosa resident, beloved husband, father, U.S. Navy veteran and inventor of the "Whirlybird" hand-held fertilizer-spreader, passed away on Dec. 29, 2013. He was 88. The oldest of four boys, Jack was born in Martinez, CA on Dec. 15, 1925. His family later moved to Nichols, CA, a General Chemical town located about five miles west of Pittsburg. He attended Nichols Elementary school and Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, where he excelled in football. He graduated in June 1944 and was drafted into the U.S. Navy. After going through basic training in Farragut, Idaho, he attended Quartermaster school, graduating in the spring of 1945. He was then sent to Ulithi Atoll in the South Pacific. He was assigned to the USS Colorado BB45 battleship in Leyte Gulf, Philippines and was anchored in Okinawa when the atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. They were assembling to invade Japan when World War II ended. He was transferred to the destroyer USS Southerland in Tokyo Bay. In the spring of 1946, he was transferred to the destroyer Dennis J. Buckley DD 808 where he was the senior quartermaster. He was discharged in June 1946 and attended Marin Junior College where he excelled in football as a half back and fullback. His hopes were fulfilled when he received a full football scholarship to Oregon State College (now OSU) where he studied agriculture. He hoped to run a cattle ranch. After redshirting in 1947, Jack suffered a severe dislocation of his shoulder in 1948 while playing linebacker, an injury that ended his football career. But he didn't slow down, riding bareback in the College Rodeo and winning first place in 1949. After graduation, Jack joined Chevron Chemical in 1951 as a livestock specialist. In 1952 he met and fell in love with Aneta Nygren, and three months later they were married. They had their daughter, Shellie, in 1953. Later Jack was in product development working his way up to Western Regional Manager. He worked for 36 years for Chevron Ortho Division where he invented the "Whirlybird," a hand-held fertilizer spreader. More than 100 million Whirlybird spreaders have been sold to date. Jack was known for his enthusiasm, can-do attitude and his positive and sincere outlook on life. He loved people, and they flourished when around him. While working for Ortho, Jack designed and built five homes on weekends. He was a powerhouse of creativity and energy. Jack retired in December 1986. After years of living in San Rafael, he and Aneta moved to Santa Rosa in 1987. Jack designed and built a beautiful dream home for them overlooking Sonoma Valley. Jack volunteered with "Ideas to Market" an inventors group, and later was recognized by the city for his work at Luther Burbank Home and Garden. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Aneta, and his beloved daughter, Shellie, who was at his side when he died. He also is survived by his brother, Robin Hadley of San Rafael, and many nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Rosa, 1550 Pacific Ave. Santa Rosa. A reception at the church will follow. The family prefers that memorials be made to the Oregon State University Athletic Department c/o Shellie Hadley 1663 Norte Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95404.

Published Online in the Press Democrat from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, 2014
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