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John Washburne


1922 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
John Washburne Obituary
WW II VETERAN; MARRIED FOR 72 YEARS John "Jack" Washburne, born December 5, 1922, formerly of Chatham Township, New Jersey, where he lived for 47 years, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at the Addolorata Villa in Wheeling, Illinois. Jack was the oldest son of Willard Haynes Washburne (1892-1962) and Marie Nicolau (1900-1984). On his paternal side, Jack was the eleventh generation Washburn(e) male to live in America and a direct descendant from Mayflower pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. His mother's family migrated from Italy to the United States, via Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1901. The Washburnes raised their two sons, Jack and Jerry, in Chicago. Jack attended Chicago public grade schools and Morgan Park Military Academy for high school where he excelled. He graduated in December 1940 from Morgan Park as the highest-ranking cadet in his class. Upon graduation, Jack continued his studies at Morgan Park Junior College on scholarship in hopes of a later appointment to West Point. However, like many of his Greatest Generation, Jack's plans changed due to the events of December 1941. On December 5th, 1941, Jack celebrated his 19th birthday and two days later the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. On February 5, 1942, Jack enlisted in the United States Army as one of the youngest commissioned officers to serve during WW II. Jack reported for training on June 17, 1942 at Camp Edwards in Massachusetts. On October 1, 1942, he was activated for duty and served more than thirty-four months overseas as a member of the 542 Corp of Engineers, where Jack saw combat in the South Pacific. During his time overseas, Jack began writing to a young woman, LaVerne O'Toole, he dated in high school in Chicago. He proposed marriage via mail and she wrote back "yes" to his question. At the time of their engagement, Jack was serving in combat duty in the Philippines that would last until Japan finally surrendered in August 1945. Jack would later be part of the American occupational forces in Japan. The following year, Jack and LaVerne were married in Chicago. The last entry of Jack's Army diary recorded the following: "February 16, 1946: Married LaVerne and lived happily ever after! ! ! The End!" It was not the end, but rather another beginning. While Jack never did enroll at West Point after the war, he did continue to serve in the Army Reserves reaching the rank of Major. Under the G.I. Bill, Jack also attended Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, graduating in 1949 with a degree in Engineering. Jack was hired by Illinois Bell Telephone Company in their building construction department. During the early years of his career, Jack and LaVerne lived in Chicago, Madison (NJ), and Deerfield (IL). They also had five children: Diane, Karen, John, Brian (1954-1954) and Mark. In 1969, Jack relocated with AT&T to New York City and the family lived in Chatham, NJ. At this stage of his career, Jack was the top AT&T engineer in charge of the construction of AT&T's World Headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ and another AT&T building at 55th and Madison in New York. After retiring from AT&T in 1978, Jack was president and part owner of a solar energy business before becoming involved with the construction of the World Headquarters of Beneficial Finance Company in Peapack. After the construction of the Peapack building, Jack served as the Vice President of Beneficial's facilities. Jack also volunteered his engineering services in the construction of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Chatham Township. In November 1997, Jack suffered a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on the left side of body. Despite his illness, Jack worked diligently at his recovery and would spend his last twenty years displaying tremendous courage to his family as he learned to work around his disability. Last month, on February 16, 2018, Jack and LaVerne Washburne celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary. Besides LaVerne, Jack leaves behind his brother, Jerry Washburne, from Indiana, and four children: Diane (Tom Kalebic) House Kalebic; Karen (Anthony) House; John (Maribeth) Washburne; and Mark (Diane) Washburne. He also leaves behind 10 grandchildren: Laura (Todd Beeby) House Beeby; Susan House; Molly House; Katherine House; Thomas (Kozue) House; Meaghan (Jaime) Escareno; Kevin House; Brian (Ginny) Washburne; Daniel (Krista) Washburne; Amy (Michael) Williams. He also leaves behind 12 great-grandchildren: Soren Beeby; Francis Farmer; Ossian Farmer; Alia Daugird; Kayla Daugird; Elizabeth Escareno; Michael Washburne; Owen Washburne; Kellan Washburne; Elijuah Warren; Jackson Williams; and Madison Williams. A memorial service in Jack's honor is being planned for Memorial Day weekend in Illinois.
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Mar. 11, 2018
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