Deacon Jack M. Kettering, 87, of Rock Island, passed away Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at UnityPoint Health-Trinity, Rock Island. A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Rock Island. Visitation will be Tuesday at the Church from 9 a.m. until the time of the service. A rosary will be recited at 8:45 a.m. Burial will be in the Rock Island National Cemetery, where military honors will be conducted by the Moline American Legion Post No. 246. Due to the pandemic, no reception will be held. Memorials may be made to Quad City Right to Life. Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory, Rock Island, is assisting the family.
Jack was born Aug. 8, 1932, in Rock Island, Ill. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the Army “to see the world”—and ended up celebrating his 18th birthday in a foxhole in Korea.
It was at this point in his life that Jack found the Catholic Church. Late one night, pondering the meaning of life in light of the violence seen during war, Jack met a kindly older priest who took the time to listen and speak with him. So began a love affair with the Catholic faith, which lasted for a lifetime.
Upon his return from Korea Jack finished high school and went on to attend St. Ambrose College on the GI Bill. Although he didn’t complete his bachelor’s degree, Jack was a lifelong learner, taking many additional courses and consuming myriad nonfiction and self-help books over the next 65 years, surely earning it.
After some consideration of monastic life, Jack married the lovely Marian Leenknecht on May 4, 1957, and they had six children together, losing two as infants. He treasured his children and was very proud of them.
Jack became a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and often carried additional jobs to support his growing family.
When the Permanent Diaconate was established, Jack was called to serve the Diocese of Peoria, ordained on Nov. 18, 1979. He engaged in jail and hospital ministry, coordinated religious education programs, visited shut-ins, delivered homilies, and assisted at Mass. Jack loved giving talks for Cursillo and TEC and performing—fully costumed—as St. Francis and Don Quixote. Jack also heard many Alcoholics Anonymous “Fifth Steps” during which recovering addicts shared deeply personal reflection on past wrongs and new beginnings.
At this same time, Jack developed a passion for running and completed his first marathon at the age of 45. This was the start of another lifelong love affair: Road races, marathons and triathlons, including an invitation to the Ironman Competition.
Jack eventually retired from the Post Office and found a home at Circa 21, where he fell in love once again. The “Maintenance Supervisor” (in a department of one), Jack was able to work while sets were built and rehearsals held—and he was responsible for all those little lights throughout the theatre. The actors’ house and yard were always safe, neat and comfortable, a labor of love. Most of all, he adored and admired the actors and bootleggers. Reluctantly retiring at age 85, his heart was no longer able to give him the energy he needed.
Survivors include his wife, Marian; brother, Donald; sons, Joe (Rose), Coal Valley, Tom (Kim), Milan, and John (Don), Woodland Hills, Calif.; daughter, Jane, East Moline; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (with another on the way).
Jack was preceded in death by his son and daughter, Stephen and Katherine, younger brother, Dick Kettering, parents, and granddaughter, Heather.
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