John G. Vanko
Died: April 12, 2021
John G. Vanko, 83, of St. Charles, Illinois, passed away on April 12, 2021 after a 15-month battle against pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded and comforted by the prayers, tears, laughter, and love of his family.
John is survived by his high school sweetheart, best friend, and wife of 63 years, Martha (Pickerill), and two children, Kimberly Millet of Phoenix, Arizona and Kenneth (Karyn) Vanko of Batavia, Illinois; his brother, Richard (Nancy) Vanko of Streator, Illinois; five grandchildren, Austin Millet, Ross (Noriko) Millet, York Millet, Langdon Vanko, and Lincoln Vanko; and one great-grandson, Orson Millet.
In 1937, John was born to parents John and Louise (Rezen) Vanko in Streator, Illinois. He graduated from Streator High School in 1955, where he was a standout basketball player and held the school scoring record for ten years. After declining a tryout with the Chicago White Sox farm team, John attended Western Illinois University on a basketball scholarship. There, John received his Bachelor of Science (1959) and a Master of Science (1960). He then earned his Doctor of Education from Loyola University in 1973.
Throughout his life, John was devoted to education and to making a meaningful difference in the lives of students. At Joliet West High School, he taught history and mathematics and then later served as a counselor, dean, assistant principal, and principal. John became the Associate Superintendent for Community Unit School District 303 in St. Charles before earning the position of Superintendent in 1991.
Under John's leadership, St. Charles High School received the 1994-1996 Blue Ribbon Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Education. As Superintendent, John was instrumental in helping pass a $44 million referendum to build Wredling Middle School and a ninth-grade building on the Dunham Campus at St. Charles High School. The referendum that John helped pass allowed for District 303's eventual expansion of a second high school, which now is known as St. Charles North.
After retiring in 1996, John joined Aurora University, where he taught graduate level education classes and coordinated the administrative internship program for the training of future school administrators at all levels. John taught for 13 years at Aurora University and eventually retired in 2008 as Associate Professor Emeritus at the College of Education.
Throughout his adult life, John was involved in many community activities. He served on the Delnor Community Hospital board of directors for ten years. John also volunteered his time with the United Way, Rotary Club of St. Charles (where he served as President), and youth sports organizations.
John was an avid golfer who celebrated four holes-in-one and, in one of his last rounds, shot his age of 81. He traveled extensively throughout Europe with Martha many times, including golf trips to Scotland and Ireland. John treasured memories of many other European travels where he enjoyed local culture, cuisine, and architecture, as well as visits to basilicas, cathedrals, and museums. At home, John was a frequent patron of sporting events, the Lyric Opera, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
John influenced many students, teachers, and administrators throughout his professional life. He treated all with kindness and empathy. He died at peace, with dignity and no regrets.
Funeral mass will be held _Tuesday April 20th_at 10:30 a.m. at St. Patrick Crane Road Church, 6N491 Crane Road, St. Charles. Interment will follow immediately at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 37W210 Fabyan Parkway, Geneva. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the family will not hold a visitation. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made either to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
or the District 303 Education Foundation. For further information, please call Yurs Funeral Home, St. Charles, 630-584-0060, or visit www.yursfuneralhomes.com
Published by Daily-Chronicle from Apr. 16 to Apr. 17, 2021.