JOHN ALOYSIUS DONNELLY

 

IMG 27_0001Jumpin’ Jack Donnelly was born June 19th 1922 and died February 20th 2013 in Seattle, at the age of 90.

 

Born John Aloysius Donnelly, he grew up with nine brothers and sisters in the small town of Kingston, NY, where his five surviving siblings still live. He lived up to his Irish Catholic heritage enough to defend his middle name even though as a youngster he didn’t know how to spell it. He had his corned beef and cabbage every St Patrick’s day and had just recently renewed his faith in the Catholic Church.

 

Jack entered into the National Guard in 1939, at age 17. His Guard unit was nationalized by President Roosevelt in 1941. He served with the 158th Field Artillery regiment and later with the 157th Field Artillery Regiment. Near the start of the war he was stationed in Richmond Beach, Washington where he manned an artillery emplacement to watch for submarines in Puget Sound. The gun emplacement was in the front yard of John and Henrietta Lindsay and that was where he met his first girlfriend, Audrey Lindsay. Jack went on to serve in Europe in the later parts of the war in many theaters, including the Battle of the Bulge.

 

After the war Jack returned to Richmond Beach and married Audrey. He went to work for his father in law’s contracting business, John Lindsay Jr. Contracting, where he learned to be a carpenter and later went on to become a foreman. He built a house next door to his mother in law where he and Audrey raised three children.

 

After John Lindsay’s death, Jack started his own business, Lindsay/Donnelly Contracting. During this time he was also part owner of Arden Lanes Bowling Alley in Richmond Beach. He continued to work in the construction industry until a job related injury forced him to quit full time construction work. He then went on to start a new career as a bartender. He worked at the Chopsticks Restaurant, then Ballinger Lanes and finally the Moon Gardens. This set loose into the world some of Jack’s wonderful stories, where we hope they still roam.

 

It was also during that time that he met the “love of his life”, Anne. If ever two people were meant to be together, they were it. Anne came with her own family but Jack respected and treated them as his own. As the family grew, so did his love. Jack came from a very large family and never forgot his New York origins.

 

Over the years he and various family members would make the trip back to Kingston to visit and celebrate life. He and Anne were given a “mock wedding” on one occasion and on another trip the family all went to the cemetery where his father was buried and poured mead on his grave. There were many more trips East and many more memorable and happy occasions.

 

He loved his birth family and all the relatives back there but he also accumulated a huge family here on the West coast. The blended family grew from siblings and a son and daughters, and included in laws and step kids, and step-in-laws, and nieces and nephews and grandkids and great grandkids and great great grandkids. Jack was a rock of strength in the family, and answered to names of Dad, Papa, Grandpa, Granddad, Jack and many others as he got them or walked down the aisle. People always came to him for their celebrations – birthday parties and weddings and holidays – and later they came to his side for emergency rooms and intensive care unit visits. We all tried to give back to him the love that he showered on us. He is survived by his wife Anne, with whom he was planning their 43rd anniversary on June 19th.

 

For an Irishman, Jack was pretty quiet. He chose words carefully, and preferred to lead by example. He passed on his carpentry skills to his son, and was a very patient deck-building tutor to his son in law. Jack worked masterfully with his hands. He built two houses from the ground up.  “The house that Anne and Jack built” was posted on a shamrock and nailed to a tree where all the traffic on Brier Road would see it for many years.

 

Early on in their relationship, Jack an Anne started playing golf with Jack having to use Anne’s clubs. Eventually Jack got his own clubs and began playing every week. For many years, he and his friends Ole, Joe and Ernie would play every Wednesday at a different course. They even went on a cross country trip with their wives in a RV to play different courses. Between this trip and a few other trips, they played in Washington, Canada, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, California, South Carolina and Arizona.

 

Later, Anne and Jack became snowbirds, and then moved permanently to Yuma, Arizona. Anne worked at a golf course and they both enjoyed the game for several more years  Jack began walking for exercise when he could no longer comfortably play the game, and his walks soon grew to three or four hours each. The local paper did a feature on the “Walking Man of Yuma.” These long walks gave him plenty of time to call each and every one of his many relatives on their birthdays and sing Happy Birthday to them. These special annual renditions sometimes got recorded in voice mail, where they are treasured as gifts from a man who loved fully and in his own way.017B

 

Jack moved to Tucson to live with Anne’s daughter and her husband. He shifted his daily trips to a recumbent bicycle. His many thousands of miles ridden were often punctuated by flat tires and occasional rescue missions by the family. We are still not sure how Jack and his bicycle got a ride home on top of a fire truck and ambulance, with lights fully flashing.

 

At age 82, Jack had admitted that he had an unfulfilled dream.  He had been repeatedly denied a transfer into the paratroops during the war and still wanted to jump. At age 83, Jack donned his jump suit at Harvey Field in Snohomish. Five family members from three generations jumped with him. Jack was the last one to land, greeted by almost 60 relatives who gathered for the occasion. His face was full of joy and delight, which spread contagiously through the crowd. “Jumpin’ Jack” was born that day and the name lasted for the rest of his life. The name embodied the joy and the courage that his family all identified him with.

 

In 2011, Jack and Anne moved back to Seattle. The flight involved three assistive walkers, two wheelchairs, seven family members, nine suitcases and two yowling cats. Jack was the picture of calm. He got to spend more than a full year back home among his extended and blended family.

 

He chased sea gulls on his scooter rides while his son chased after him. He came to barbecues and was the focus of many family gatherings. His sister Mary Lou came out for a surprise visit this winter, chatting away with Jack on their regular Sunday call together as she came into his apartment and stood in front him. He kept right on talking on the phone while he got a big grin on his face. Jack loved a good joke. His smile was a treasure.

 

Jack was proud of his service, and raised the flag every day for over sixty years. Last July 4th, Jack joined the Veterans march in the Edmonds town parade. His scooter wove from side to side as Jack waved to people, chased by his son and son-in-law who had both served in Vietnam. Everyone finally got their homecoming welcome.IMG_0003

 

Jumpin’ Jack is survived and his memory is cherished by a very large number of family members and friends. Each of us had a personal relationship with him. We all shared a part of his life and each became a better person for knowing him. There are too many of us to list, but there are more than enough to preserve his memory. This isn’t about us, it’s about him.

 

A very good man has left the earth and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him. We will all meet again in the presence of the Lord.

 

A Memorial Service will be held ay Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington on Friday March 1st at 2:00 PM. It will be a military ceremony with full honors.

 

5 Responses to “JOHN ALOYSIUS DONNELLY”

  • Judy says:

    Uncle Jack will missed by us all.He was the sweeetest person and I loved him very much. The family loved the get togethers when he and Aunt Ann came to Kingston. As we celebrate the same birtday he is always in my heart and will never be forgotten. Now he goes to meet his brothers and sister in heaven what a party they will have. Always the Irishmen till we meet again love always

  • Ra Shields says:

    beautiful eulogy. Our elders are to be treasured while they are alive. They have so much to share about their lives as the greatest generation of our country. What kind of eulogy will be given to the freeloaders of today? Not the same I imagine. So sorry for your loss.

  • Sharon Elaine says:

    I was so sorry to learn about Jacks’ passing. Please know you have my deepest condolences over the loss of such a wonderful man. May God grant you peace during this difficult time. Galatians 1:3. May the resurrection promise fill your heart with hope of seeing Jack again in paradise. John 11:11, 21-26; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 21:3,4. Heartfelt prayers are with you.

  • Bonnie Culbertson says:

    The world lost a wonderful man and heaven gained an angel. My thoughts and prayers go out to the whole family. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Patty Bernhardt says:

    I am Jacks’ sister-in-law, wintering in Yuma, AZ did not make it to the service. For a number of years Larry and I lived just a few blocks from each other in Yuma, we in the winter and they year round.It was a wonderful time for us all to do things together again. Not golf, but meals out and home. Holiday’s especially were enjoyed.Yes, Jack was quite the walker putting miles and I mean miles on every day. He loved his family young and old, near and far. Close family members or all the extended families. He also loved visiting Anne and my parents at their home in the San Juans-Shaw Island. Jack will be missed.

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