James Thomas Warlitner Jr.
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NEWPORT NEWS - James Thomas Warlitner, Jr., ("Jack" to all who knew and loved him) passed away Sunday, September 23, 2013, following a brief illness. Preceded in death by his mother (Mamie Viola Smith Warlitner), father (James Thomas Warlitner Sr.), son (Thomas Wade Warlitner), daughter (Irene Warlitner), 3 sisters, and 3 brothers, he is survived by daughter Dorothy Ann Warlitner Cannon, son James Thomas Warlitner III (Crystal Coffey Warlitner), son Keith Allen Warlitner, 10 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 1 great-great granddaughter. Born in Clifton Forge, VA, September 9, 1925, Jack moved to Newport News as a child where he lived until enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942. Stationed aboard numerous naval vessels in many foreign ports during and following WWII, Jack served his country with distinction and pride for 20 years of active duty service and 10 years as a Naval Reservist. Known in the Navy as the "pint-sized Hercules, " Jack was considered the man willing to do anything, for anyone, at any time. He was a man considered everyone's friend, respected and liked by peers and subordinates alike. Following retirement from his active duty Naval career in 1962, Jack began the next chapter of his life, returning to Newport News and working first on a tugboat and then for Newport News Ship Building. In 1970, while on loan from the shipyard to climb and install chain motors on the high steel of Hampton Coliseum, Jack came to the attention of McManus Enterprises. Watching him climb and work hundreds of feet in the air, McManus recruited Jack as their "Head Rigger" and he traveled the globe known as "Jack the Rigger." Throughout the 1970s, Jack hit the road alongside classic shows of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, KISS, ZZ Top, and many more iconic entertainers. When McManus added other facets of the industry, including lighting contracts with HBO Sports, Jack witnessed many historical sporting events including Summer and Winter Olympic Games, championship boxing matches, gymnastics, track and field, tennis, and more. He met and worked with legends Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Tyson, and Holyfield, to name a few, and worked in fascinating places including Seoul (Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Kinshasa (Zaire Africa), Las Vegas, and New York's Madison Square Garden. Jack was recognized as MVP by Comcast Sportsnet and was declared the "Oldest Working Rigger in the United States," where he continued to climb the high steel until his retirement after 34 years at age 79. Jack returned to Newport News in 2004. Officially retired, he was a hard-working, fiercely independent man who immediately rented warehouse and shop space and continued to work on projects such as nautical knot boards and his famous "Jack Bags" every day, 7 days a week, until his passing. Visitation will be Thursday, September 26, 2013 (5:30 - 7:00 pm at Peninsula Funeral Home, Newport News). Memorial Services will be Friday, September 27, 2013 (5:30 pm, at Olivet Christian Church, Old Courthouse Way, Newport News). A private burial service with full military honors will be held for family at Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia (1:00 pm, Friday, September 27, 2013). In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Peninsula SPCA or Olivet Christian Church.

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Published in Daily Press from Sep. 25 to Sep. 27, 2013.
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Memories & Condolences
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43 entries
January 5, 2017
To the family of Jack. I'm so sorry for your loss. Jack and I use to work together at the warehouse for Bill McManus. He became a very special part of my life. He was like a grandfather to me. Then I lost touch. He will always have a special place in my heart.

Much love, Victoria
Victoria Lanpher
December 23, 2013
May your family and friends be comforted, and may you rest in peace.
Tim F.
November 19, 2013
Thank you for your gift, I am a KISS fan, meaning, Thank you for helping and working with KISS, May you rest in peace, and have great knowledge and direction to guide you in the next world, God bless.
Al Tsosie
November 10, 2013
hang loose
wow so many untold stories, must have been fun to be around. zombie ray
ray gindle
November 5, 2013
Thanks so much for taking care of KISS!

"If you believe in forever, then life is just a one night stand. If there's a rock and roll Heaven, you know they've got a hell of a band."
Anne Beckman
November 1, 2013
God Bless You and may you rest in Peace. Prayers and thoughts to your family. Thank you for your great work with KISS.
Tim D
October 24, 2013
We all have thousands of stories to share that's for sure, from our experiences with Jack, to Jack's experiences on the road and life in general. He carried the advice of a prophet … can you ever recall bad advice, I can't.
I remember when my daughter was born, February '85 … Jack came over to the shop with a set of yellow Jack-Bags, one for Carol and this little tiny yellow Jack-Bag for Sasha … Mac was furious because Annie didn't get one. Carol is still using that same Jack-Bag three times a week when she goes to the gym. As far a Sasha's little yellow one, I wouldn't let her take it with when we finally married her off! The bag sits on a shelf in our bedroom closet to this day. How's that for product durability.
So next time you tie that Bolen … say out loud, THANKS JACK!
Thanks Jack!
You will certainly be missed!
October 23, 2013
RIP James. All beautiful light and spirit may flow forever eternity for you.
Joe Fanizzi
October 22, 2013
Thank you
Know it or not, you helped not only KISS, but me getting through my teen yrs

Life long KISS fan
Craig Gardner
October 8, 2013
I was Blessed to have Jack as my next door neighbor. Through the years he was loved as a Grand father. God Bless his family! You are sadly missed. Rest in peace my friend! mary and Rob
October 7, 2013
Jack was a great rigger, an honest friend and a great person. I learned a lot from him and always will remember him!
Stew Huminski
October 7, 2013
There will never be another man quite like Jack, the Rigger. Go with God, friend. Sincerest sympathies to Jimmy, Dorothy and their families.
Ken & Evie Anderson
October 6, 2013
I worked with Jack the Rigger in the warehouse at McManus for many years. He was truly an inspiration and a joy to work with. Many nights of coffee Pall Malls...smoking and joking in the back of the warehouse. Many a tale told and a lesson learned. Jack will always be a part of me. Thanks for the memories my friend. May you rest in peace.
Frank Mohan
October 6, 2013
October 5, 2013
I'm very sorry to hear about his passing, such a dedicated & respected man. Jack will be remembered in Rock History as an employee & friend of KISS. Any friend of KISS, was a friend of mine! Love, heartfelt prayers & God Bless all that are connected to Jack. May all have peace.
Brian Hoelscher
October 4, 2013
May you rest in peace and thanks for helping others dreams come true.
Chaz Davis
October 3, 2013
I will never forget meeting Jack the week that the Trump Taj Mahal opened up. We had a boxing match as one of our first shows and I kept being told "wait until you meet Jack & Mac".
And then - there he was - the very first person to ever repel off the grid in the Arena. I will never forget that.
And I am still using my purple Jack bag to this day!!
I know he is up there keeping an eye on us all.
Until we meet again my friend ... I will miss you!!
Leslie Sander
October 3, 2013
Even though I was in the sales half of McManus, I have such fond memories of Jack and his big heart. A warm, friendly fella, and the ropes will never be the same.
October 2, 2013
looks like you had a great life. thank you for being born !!
October 1, 2013
Thanks for helping out with the band jack. You really are a good friend with KISS.
Amber Rasmussen
October 1, 2013
Jack was with us in the early touring days of KISS. It was hard workers like Jack that helped get us to the top. We could not have done it without his help. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. You will be missed. God bless you.
Peter Criss
September 29, 2013
I haven't seen Jack in many years and miss all the people from McManus when they would come and put up a rig for boxing at Trump Castle. He was such a character. Rest in Peace my friend.
Karen Johnson Purcell
September 27, 2013
Jack with my son Jack.
I had the honor and the pleasure of working with Jack at McManus for over 10 years. Although I left the business 18 years ago my heart will always be filled with the memories of being with Jack and being Jack's "floor man". He was a friend and a grandfather type to me, so much so I named my son Jack. There are hundreds of people like me that have been touched by this incredible man. How Lucky we all are to have him pass through our lives. I know how much his family meant to him as well. For you all my deepest condolences.
Joy Bowman Thompson
September 27, 2013
It is a pleasure to know Jack. His shop was next to mine. And for years we talked and helped each other out. Actually, he helped me out more. Always lending a hand. He was always in the back of his shop making his bags. and Jack was sure to give my wife one when she stopped by. He helped me, in my shop, rigging up stuff. I'm amazed how much he knew. How kind he was. And always had a treat in his pocket for the dogs. God must be in need of a great man to raise and lower the sun.
Scott Miller
September 26, 2013
Sorry for your lose. My Heart goes out to you and your family. Prayers to you all.
Lisa Vess
September 26, 2013
I had the honor of working with Jack 33 years ago traveling the country doing some great things. He touched so many people around the world in his travels. I moved on but always looked forward to seeing Jack when he came to town. On behalf of myself and the brothers & sisters of IATSE Local 917 in Atlantic City, our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this time. He meant a lot to those of us that had the fortune to share time with him.
Bob Wiechecki IATSE Local 917
September 26, 2013
Jack wore many hats, meaning...he could keep your attention with a story of his past. Show you something he made at the "warehouse", or just be a listener. He will forever be in our hearts.
Roger Parker
September 26, 2013
Our condolences for the family and extended family. Jack was a great spirit and a gentle man. He will be greatly missed.
Donald Robertson
September 26, 2013
Sorry to hear about your father Jim. He had a very interesting life and I am sure will be missed.

Craig Smith
September 26, 2013
Mr. Warlitner's obituary was a beautiful tribute to his life. My condolences to his family.
Dee Davis
September 26, 2013
September 26, 2013
The obit is a beautiful testament of a life well-lived. Condolences and prayers to the Warlitner family.
September 26, 2013
My deepest condolences to the family. Jack changed my life. I just regret that I did not make the effort to keep in touch with him.
Bernard Williams
September 25, 2013
My condolences to all the family. My prayers and thoughts are with you all at this time of sorrow. He lived a very active life and I am sure loved by many. So sorry for your loss.
Cheryl English Pernell
September 25, 2013
Our condolences to the family, it's been a blessing and an honor to know him.
Lee & Vicki Burns
September 25, 2013
Sports show souvenirs
September 25, 2013
September 25, 2013
Working with Kiss
September 25, 2013
Jack the Rigger
September 25, 2013
September 25, 2013
I met and worked with Jack 20+ yrs ago when I started rigging. He always made working fun even on the bad ones. My condolences on your loss. He will be missed.
Michael Furtado
September 25, 2013
I'm honored to say that I got to work with this man for a few years at McManus. He was pretty amazing, and I'll never forget him. My condolences to his entire family.
Neil McGettigan
September 25, 2013
May God be with you and your family in this sad time. We will keep you all in our prayers. Jean & Chuck Nicely, Alice Faye Bocook
Jean Nicely
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