|Birth: ||Apr. 20, 1917|
|Death: ||Oct. 28, 2010|
ROCHE, JOHN R. "Jack" age 93, of Burr Ridge. U.S. Navy Veteran WWII. Beloved husband of the late Marie (nee Beide); loving father of Nancy (Tom) Swanstrom, Cathleen (Lawrence) Tyndall, Deborah (John) Lasala and John R. Jr. (Lisa) Roche; cherished grandfather of Jenny and Gina Lasala, John and Bill Tyndall and Nora and Jack Roche, uncle to many beloved nieces and nephews. Visitation Tuesday from 2 to 9 p.m. at Hallowell & James Funeral Home 1025 W. 55th St., Countryside. Funeral Mass Wednesday 9:45 a.m. at St. John of the Cross Church, (51st & Wolf Rd.) Western Springs, with family requesting friends to meet directly at Church Wednesday morning. Private Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association or that everyone practice a simple act of kindness. Funeral home phone 708-352-6500.
John R. "Jack" Roche packed 200 years of living into his 93 years.
He performed in the operetta "The Pirates of Penzance" with his high school choral club at the 1934 World's Fair.
Then he logged 2,700 hours as a machine gunner aboard a Navy protection blimp along the Eastern seaboard patrolling for German subs during World War II. He returned to his hometown and in 1946 won the Chicago city handball championship, a sport he played well into his 80s.
The native South Sider served his community as a Chicago cop, a Cook County Sheriff's Department captain and, for two decades, as Chicago's chief compliance officer for electrical codes. For 46 years he sat as a trustee on the board of the Pleasantview Fire Protection District in La Grange Highlands.
And for decades, the longtime Burr Ridge resident also performed in local theater in the western suburbs of Western Springs, La Grange and Hinsdale. He also appeared in or assisted in the production of dozens of locally made films — including one of his favorites, "The Blues Brothers."
That man in the first Metamucil television ad in 1977? Yep. Jack Roche.
And to cap it, he has a posthumous appearance in the upcoming Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition, taped in July 2009.
"He lived his life as though the best thing that was about to happen to him would happen tomorrow," said his son, John Jr.
Mr. Roche, who also worked as a repairman for General Electric, died Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as he was about to undergo heart surgery. According to his son, Mr. Roche was telling a joke to one of the nurses as they were putting him under anesthesia when he died.
"He loved telling jokes, and he never told the same joke twice," said his son, who added that his father understood the risks involved in his surgery, but felt it was important to try because it is "the highly experimental surgeries of today that become the routine surgeries of tomorrow."
"As far as he was concerned, you never surrender to fear," his son said.
Mr. Roche graduated from Tilden Technical High School in Chicago in 1936. He rolled cigars and delivered meat to get by during the Depression, before landing a patrol officer job in the Woodlawn neighborhood with the Chicago Police Department in 1941. He enlisted in the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor.
After the war, Mr. Roche returned to the force, but left to join the Cook County Sheriff's Department to assist with murder investigations in 1949.
That same year he married his wife, Marie, who died five years ago. The couple settled in what is now Burbank, but moved to Burr Ridge in 1956. From 1959 to 1979, he was Chicago's chief compliance officer for electrical codes.
Mr. Roche joined the board of trustees of what is now the Pleasantview Fire Protection District in 1958, and from 1965 until 2003 served as its president.
"Jack was one of these unbelievable guys you rarely have the honor of knowing," said longtime friend and Pleasantview Fire Chief Dan Hermes. "Right up until the end, he was stopping by the station to see how things were going. The department was still so much a part of his life."
When he stepped down in 2004, the district renamed its headquarters in La Grange Highlands after him.
"He left a real legacy," Hermes said. "He was someone who never dwelled on the past but looked forward to the future."
Another constant for Mr. Roche was his acting, a passion he satiated in everything from print and TV advertising to local theater and bit parts in big-time movies filmed in Chicago, like "The Fury" with Kirk Douglas and "16 Candles," among others.
Mr. Roche also was known as much for his random acts of kindness to strangers as he was for his quick wit and enduring good looks.
"He'd tell us the smallest good deed is greater than the best of intentions," his son said.
Other survivors include three daughters, Nancy Swanstrom, Cathleen Tyndall and Deborah LaSala; and six grandchildren.
Marie Catherine Beide Roche (1927 - 2005)
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
Created by: Grave Hound
Record added: Oct 29, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60826450
May you Rest in Peace|
Added: Jan. 19, 2013
Added: Oct. 29, 2010