Jack Baldwin Wade
1931 - 2021

Jack Baldwin Wade: September 2, 1931 to September 13th, 2021

Jack Wade passed away at age 90 on Monday, September 13th, in San Francisco after a brief illness. He is preceded in death by his wife Joan Munson Wade, son Michael James Wade, and beloved dog Suzy. He is survived by his daughters Barbara Wade and Judy Wade, his grandchild Charlie Dodd, and many loving family members and friends.

Jack was born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri -- and like Hannibal's most famous citizen, Mark Twain, had the gift of gab and more than a little hard-headedness. All who knew Jack recognized a keen intellect, which is why it is so surprising that he spent more time in the principal's office at Mark Twain Elementary school than an actual classroom. After managing to graduate from Hannibal High School he spent three years studying Agriculture at University of Missouri, Columbia (a subject choice that perplexes his daughters given his utter lack of interest in how plants grow and complete unwillingness to shovel, weed, or harvest). Realizing his mistake, Jack joined the Air Force, sparking a love of flying that would stay with him to the end, while not actually seeing any action during the Korean War despite what he might have told you. While stationed in Great Falls, MT he was set up on a blind date with Joan, to whom he would be married for almost 60 years until her passing in 2015. After being stationed at Woodridge Airforce base in England in 1956-57 (which led to a love of international travel and a loathing of English food), Joan and Jack headed back to Columbia, MO where Jack finally earned an engineering degree. He might not have been any better suited to engineering as any attempt to fix anything electrical led to sailor-level swearing and a swift call to the relevant shop to repair the damage. The constant moving from his job at Republic Aviation led Jack to join Lockheed in Santa Clara, CA, working on radio communication systems. Now with three kids in tow, Jack and Joan settled in Campbell, CA, where they would stay for more than 35 years.

Jack loved baseball, especially the Giants, as well as giving back. After more than a few years of coaching Little League he finally reached the pinnacle of coaching -- an undefeated season. Jack became convinced his "lucky" shoes were the reason for the win streak and he refused to wear any other pair. Fortunately for the noses of all around him, they fell apart after the last win, possibly helped by "accidental" watering by the garden hose by someone other than himself. Without the shoes Jack saw only losses in his future so he decided to run for and was elected to the Campbell Unified School board, which he served on for 8 years. During his time on the Board, he was able to help improve relationships with the City of Campbell and the teachers' union, as well as put the district on solid academic and financial footing.

After visiting Joan's brother in Rome in 1984, Jack became an avid cook, although he was less enthusiastic about the cleaning up part. He was a strong believer that cooking wine had two meanings, so a glass was never far from his hand while stirring his pots. Upon his retirement from Lockheed, he and Joan moved to Brooktrails Mendocino, where Jack served on the grand jury and helped start a museum called Roots of Motive Power (engineers never really made good marketers). Dedicated to preserving the steam engines used in the early days of logging, the museum is now something to behold, with a dedicated train track and numerous steam engines for volunteers to tinker with. In addition to a golden spike in his honor on the track, there is a plaque on a redwood tree at the Brooktrails golf course commemorating a ball Jack lodged there in a way that defies physics.

In his younger days Jack's eyesight was unrivaled, and he constantly terrified his family by somehow being able to count horses on both sides of the road simultaneously while driving at least 65 MPH. In Botswana, while 'marking his territory' Jack managed to spot a leopard staring down at him from the tree above his head (admittedly most people would realize a large carnivorous cat was staring down at them sooner or later). Most sensible souls would run back to the vehicle. As the leopard jumped down Jack decided to follow it on foot until the ranger dragged him back by his belt. Jack also frequently complained about his hearing, but somehow managed to interject from way across the room when he felt it was important, and he sure knew how to lower the volume on his hearing aids when he saw fit.

Jack was always looking for someone to debate with, politics being his preferred subject. Knowing relatives and friends happily let innocent victims fall trap to Jack's charms if any were available. While it was highly unlikely you would change Jack's mind, he just might change yours through persistence, volume, and a robust set of facts as he was a voracious reader who didn't forget much except taking out the garbage. However heated the discussion became, when it was over a glass of wine and a hug would punctuate the completion of a healthy debate and cementing of new and old friendships.

On Jack's 85th birthday he departed a bit of wisdom to those around him. Be Kind. Given Covid we will find a time for his family and friends to be outside with a glass (or two) of wine in hand, celebrating a man who was funny, smart, curious, irascible, and kind. For those so moved, donations can be made to Roots of Motive Power or the Humane Society for Inland Mendocino.
Published by The WillitsNews from Sep. 22 to Oct. 21, 2021.
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