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JOHN EDWARD (JACK) WILLETT
Date of Passing: Jun 11, 2020Offer Condolences or Memory
JOHN EDWARD (JACK) WILLETT
He was born in 1930 here in Winnipeg to Mary-Jo Willett and Edgar (Ed) Willett. He was the youngest of three and brother to Pat (Armand) and Lyn (Bill). His early passion was hockey and he loved playing goalie. During that time, he met F. Ross Johnson (affectionately known as Uncle Ross to us) and that friendship lasted a lifetime. As boys, Jack and Ross ran a Winnipeg Tribune paper route in the Dorchester/Lilac area and the sole purpose of it was to finance their many trips to the Salisbury House for Double Cheese Nips. In later years when they returned to The Peg, as they often did, the first stop was always at a Sal's for their favourite burger.
Jack graduated from Kelvin High School and in 1948 went on to the University of Manitoba. At the U of M, he studied business, but his real love was basketball (1950 to 1953) and he was affectionately known as "Jack the Whippet" because of his height and his speed. He tells a story of how they played against the Harlem Globetrotters, but it is difficult to verify the accuracy of his fond memory.
Jack married Jean and left Winnipeg after graduation to work for Proctor & Gamble in Toronto. His children, Steve (Assoudeh), Scott (Julie), and I, Susan (Bill), were born there. We then moved to Switzerland where he studied at Imede Business School in Vevey and worked for Nestle. Always open to new adventures, he landed a job in England at Findus (Bird's Eye) followed by jobs at Bristol Myers (Clairol), Cadbury Schweppes (where the story goes that he met the Queen Mother) and Standard Brands, later known as Nabisco Brands Ltd.
My mother and father parted ways after 20 years and Dad met and married Stella. They had two sons that we have been happy to call our brothers, Dan (Gabriela) and Max.
Dad finally retired from Nabisco after the leveraged buyout and continued to do what he loved, which was to play golf and travel extensively.
Unfortunately, as his health declined, he was no longer able to travel the world, but his later years were spent happily at the Loxahatchee in the company of good friends, including Ross Johnson and Neil Wood (also a dear friend from the University of Manitoba).
Jack will also be missed by his grandchildren, John (Stephanie), Heather (Bryce), Jodi, Sean (Pari), Ashlie (Richard), Wells, Lake, Piers and Aurelia; and five great-grandchildren, Cadence, Sawyer, Brigham, Kieran and Roan. His niece Melinda (Richard) and nephews, Ross (Kim) and Jimmy were also an important part of our family.
To the ladies who cared so beautifully for him, Janet, Una, Claudia and Yvonne, we will never forget your kindness.
Due to the current pandemic and travel restrictions, a celebration of his life has been postponed. He would be okay with that. Jack was a man who liked to listen more than talk and was always most comfortable when the spotlight was not on him.
He will be sorely missed by his family and his many, many friends.
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Jul 11, 2020
Condolences & Memories (4 entries)
My sincere conolences and regrets to Stella, Susan, Scott, Steve and Dan. Jack was a really special person, loved by all who knew him, boy and man. He had many friends and no enemies, warm and kind to all. He lived a full life, with his family and friends and including a very successful business career, in Europe and in the USA. I had the good fortune to be his friend for most of my life. We were classmates at the University of Manitoba, and teammates in basketball on the Manitoba Bisons and on the Varsity Grads in the Winnipeg Senior League. He was an outstanding point guard, playmaker and a great teammate. And I had the pleasure of re-connecting and continuing our friendship from time to time in Toronto, in England, in USA and ultimately in Florida where we lived in winter not far apart. I came to know Stella better there, and the happiness and care she gave Jack. There we shared retirement with Ross and Susan Johnson, another Winnipegger and lifelong friend for us both. It was Jack's time to go, but nevertheless, a heartfelt loss for his family and for all of us. Neil - Posted by: Neil Wood (Friend, classmate, teammate) on: Jul 14, 2020
Dear Susan & Family Sorry to hear of the loss of your Father. Our deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. May God give you the comfort and peace that you seek, and may the soul of your loved one rest in peace. We can’t imagine what you must be feeling right now. Please remember we’re just a phone call away. Keep the memories alive, they will bring you comfort during difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Love you and miss you! George & Luz - Posted by: George & Luz Trautmann (Friends ) on: Jul 14, 2020
Dear Susan and Family, I am So sorry to hear of your dad's passing. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to all of you . Please Know that today and always, may all the loving joyful memories you shared, bring you peace, comfort, love and strength. Susan, Your dad would be so honored by this ever so eloquently beautiful memorial you have shared. - Posted by: Holly Coutu - Bults (Sister-in-law ) on: Jul 12, 2020
Ah memories. I was a classmate of Jack at Kelvin and also played with him on the school basketball team. He was fast and wiry. I knew Ross Johnson who lived on Cambridge St for a period behind our house on Oxford in River Heights. His exploits with Nabisco were well publicized in the USA. I went to Elementary School with Neil at Grosvenor and I ran into him few times at the U of M where he starred at basketball.. After graduating in Engineering at the U of M I went to graduate study at McGill and then to a faculty position at the State University in Sacramento Calif, so our paths never passed after high school. I now live in San Rafael, Calif in retirement, but do read the Free Press on the internet (I was a paper boy for them in high school and thus a competitor of Jack) on occasion and noticed the Obit. My condolences. Trevor Davey - Posted by: Trevor Davey (High School Classmate At Kelvin) on: Jul 11, 2020
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