Underwood, John Roy
John Roy Underwood died with family by his side on August 25, 2015 at his home in Green Bay following a long battle against prostate cancer. He was born on August 15, 1934 in Whitewater, Wisconsin, the oldest child of Harold W. Underwood and Doris M. (nee Henderson) Underwood.
John spent the bulk of his childhood in Wausau, Wisconsin. He developed a lifelong love of trains growing up across the street from the iconic Milwaukee Road rail depot where, as a youngster, the train engineers let him ride in the steam engine compartment of the switching train and even handle the throttle. He also developed a great appreciation for the outdoors while spending long summer days with childhood friends exploring the sandbars of the Wisconsin River and the woods along the river's banks. This close connection with the Wisconsin north woods remained with him throughout his adult life. He owned two different cottages where he participated in his favorite pastimes including hiking, hunting, fishing and cross country and water skiing with family and friends. But what he may have enjoyed most was hanging out on the pier and playing fetch with his retrievers and spaniels.
His family returned to Whitewater in 1950 and in 1952 he graduated from Whitewater High School where, among many activities, he was a guard on the Whitewater Whippet football team. In 1956 he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was President of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and, in John's words, "won the lottery when I met Gail" whom he married on August 18, 1956.
They made their home and raised two sons in Hartford, Wisconsin where John initially taught high school before assuming the position of business manager for the local school district and, in 1968, becoming a banker with First Wisconsin National Bank (now USBank) of Milwaukee. While in Hartford, John also earned his master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served his country as a sergeant in the United States Army, based at Fort Lewis, Washington during the Berlin Crisis. The household later grew with the addition of a nephew and niece.
John and Gail moved to Green Bay in 1977 when he was elected President and CEO of First Wisconsin National Bank of Green Bay, a position he held until his retirement in 1996. He was particularly proud of creating an entrepreneurial environment for his employees and establishing deeply rooted relationships with customers.
He was strongly dedicated to serving his communities. In Green Bay, John was involved in many civic activities, most notably as a member of the Executive Committee of the Green Bay Packers serving as Treasurer from 1990-2005; Chairman, Treasurer and Director of Bellin Memorial Hospital; and in Madison, a Director of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (where he was also a patient).
He typically described his job as a member of the Executive Committee as "the preservation of a national treasure." While his term coincided with the Packers' renaissance on the field, he focused on the other two legs of the "three legged stool critical to ensuring the long term success of the franchise," a metaphor John often used to explain the franchise's challenges. To that end, his most significant contributions to the Packers were as a driving force behind securing long term financial viability through Lambeau Field redevelopment and protecting league revenue sharing by reinvigorating the team's influence within the NFL through his heavy involvement on league committees dealing with revenue sharing, collective bargaining and competitive balance.
John is survived by his wife and best friend of 59 years, Gail M. (nee Schubert) Underwood, and his two sons, John (Betty) Underwood of Arlington Heights, IL and David (Deborah DeHaas) Underwood of Winnetka, IL. He loved and was fiercely proud of his grandchildren; Emily, Kelsey, Eric, Alex and Matthew Underwood.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother and sister-in-law, Robert (Barbara) Underwood and sister-in-law Margery (nee Schubert) Siegrist.
The visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 1, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Proko-Wall Funeral Home, 1630 E. Mason St., Green Bay, WI 54302. Visitation will continue on Wednesday, after 9:30 am at First United Methodist Church, 501 Howe St. Green Bay, WI 54301, until time of service. Memorial service 11:00 am Wednesday at the church with Rev. David Wilkinson officiating. In lieu of floral expressions, donations may be made to either the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, www.uwhealth.org/uw-carbone-cancer-center/cancer/10252,
Bellin Hospital Foundation, www.bellin.org/bellin-foundation#
or the First United Methodist Church of Green Bay, http://www.fumcgb.org/
. On-line condolences may be sent to www.prokowall.com
Published by Green Bay Press-Gazette from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31, 2015.