John  T. 'Jack' Horan
John T. 'Jack' Horan

July 16, 1929 - February 5, 2010
Born in Denver, CO
Resided in Greenwood Village, CO
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Obituary

Beloved husband of Valerie; father of John (Andrea), Michael (Rosemary), Deborah (Mac) Griffin, Kathleen (Jimmy) Scaggs; and grandfather of Katie, Laura, Sarah and John Luke Horan, Chelsea, Heather and Michael Horan, Chace Griffin, Mark, Christopher and Meghan Scaggs; and numerous other family members. A devoted friend to many.

The family will receive friends at Horan & McConaty Family Chapel, 5303 East County Line Road (one block to the west of Holly Street), in Centennial, Colorado, Tuesday, February 9, 2010 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., followed at 6:00 p.m. by a Vigil Service, sharing of memories and a reception. A Funeral Mass will be held Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at Christ the King Church, East 8th Avenue at Elm Street, in Denver, Colorado. Entombment follows at Rocky Mountain Memorial Park, East Parker Road and Dartmouth Avenue, in Denver, Colorado. A reception at the HeartLight Center will follow the Entombment.

Memorials are suggested in Jack's name to:
The HeartLight Center, 11150 East Dartmouth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80014, www.heartlightcenter.org
- or -
The Denver Hospice, 501 South Cherry Street, Suite 700, Denver, Colorado 80246, www.denverhospice.org

Please leave memories and share your condolences with Jack's family by selecting the "sign guestbook" button below.


Family.

That's what was important to Dad.

He was never more happy, satisfied, or peaceful than when all was well with his family and when we all were close by.

Friends, too, were very important to Dad.

Dad loved his friends – and they loved him. It was the fierce kind of love, the kind of love that makes men fight and cry.

Dad was into relationships. He wasn't as passionate about things like sports or movies. He really loved just being with his pals – family and friends. In days long ago, that included a smoke and a bourbon. In later years, the perils of smoking came home to roost. Dad couldn't catch his breath and eventually needed oxygen and a walker.

I learned just recently that Mom and Dad never had a mortgage. That really shocked me. But it helped put some things into perspective. Dad grew up during the Great Depression, the only child of a fireman and a stay at home mom. Dad had a pretty normal childhood for his times – his parents didn't have much money and dad made his own money by mowing lawns, paper routes, and raising rabbits – though his logic of how rabbits multiply somehow didn't convert into the moneymaker he had envisioned. Dad and his dad would drive to the stockyards during the Depression and collected free manure, then selling it as lawn fertilizer. Dad was one of the youngest workers ever for the City of Denver, helping to maintain City Park. A nice story in the newspaper featured Dad as one of the city's youngest workers – and a nice picture of a handsome, smiling kid in a t-shirt.

Dad was never given tuition to attend Regis High School or D.U. He earned it himself. Dad's father was miffed at his son because Dad was offered a full-ride athletic scholarship to Holy Family High School, but, no, Dad viewed himself as a Regis Man and said he'd pay for it himself. Dad later went to East High School.

Dad was always working to get ahead. As a young man, Dad was one of World Book's top sellers of encyclopedias door to door. Working with his cousin Neil Ahern at Mountain Bell, dad and Uncle Neil had milk delivery routes while working for and using vehicles from the phone company – thankfully, dad's supervisors thought he was making sales calls. Technically, I suppose he could have honestly said he WAS making sales calls.

Dad was thrifty but never stingy. He never saw the sense in hiring someone to mow his lawn – he did it himself until he had 4 kids, all capable of fertilizing, weeding, trimming and mowing. When we ate Campbell's soup, Dad added a can and a half of water. He added water to the ketchup, mustard, and Heinz 57 bottles when low – he shook 'em up and said it would taste just as good. Every month when he paid his bills, Dad always set some aside into savings. He never carried a balance on a credit card. He kept meticulous books and kept things organized. I remember when I was maybe 20 and Dad opened his desk drawer and told me if anything happened to him, to go to this file and it would contain most of what I need to know. Being organized, spending money wisely, always having savings and avoiding debt were 4 of Dad's fundamentals.

A few years ago, Dad asked if he did enough for me while I was a college student - concerned that I worked through college and didn't have enough of a fun experience. That really touched me – mom and dad paid my tuition, books, room and board, plenty! I assured Dad that sometimes the worst thing you can do for someone is to give them too much, to make it too easy – and that my college experience was perfect.

One of the few times we fought was when he saw my plans to build a new facility on South Wadsworth and expressed his concern that I was foolishly taking too many risks after the debt I had just taken on to build Parker Road. I guess I didn't do a very good job of showing Dad my homework and that the odds of success were high. If it's true that the person we become is the sum of our life experiences, then I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that Dad didn't like seeing me take on so much debt.

Dad didn't like to risk material things. He worked hard all his life to get to where he is and he had a family to take care of. Having said that, he didn't hesitate to risk everything when he signed personally on the notes in 1986 for me to buy McConatys.

One reason I can be sure Dad is in heaven is the certainty of knowing that any possible time in Purgatory must have been mitigated by all his years at the phone company. Dad did well in his work and climbed the ladder quite a ways. But I never had the sense that Dad was passionate about his work. It mostly seemed like a means to an end, the end being the safety and security of his family. It was quite a contrast for the four of us as we grew up. Mom with what we thought was the weird job at the mortuary, who loved her work. And Dad with the normal job and sometimes coming home from work seeming like he was tied in knots. Now I realize that one of the ways he loved us was to live up to what he perceived were his responsibilities.

Dad did his best to decompress when he came home from work – and he often joined us for games of basketball or throwing the baseball. That brings back memories. Dad didn't think that it was necessary to coddle his kids with soft pitches or fall-away jump shots. Nope, he'd bring it right to ya - all 6'5" and 250+ pounds of him. Right up the middle for a layup – or what felt like a 100mph fastball that taught Mike and me how to use the webbing in our mitts to avoid the palm burn of a bad catch. Dad taught us the fundamentals and to be tough. He obviously did a good job - Mike, Debbie, and Kathy went to college on athletic scholarships.

Dad's love of competition was legendary. It seemed like he never missed one of our athletic contests. Dad was not one to silently suffer what he deemed to be a bad call that affected his child. Just ask any of the grade school or high school parents or referees at Christ the King, Mullen, St Mary's, or Machebeuf games. Dad must have had pretty keen eyesight – or he JUST KNEW that NONE of his 4 precious children WOULD EVER commit a foul.

Unlike his children today, dad didn't get the chance to pursue adventure sports or to travel the world very much. But dad always made the best of things. Like 4 kids in a small boat at Black Lake, all with fishing lines out, often getting into tangles approaching the Gordian Knot. Then, dad, with his cigarette dangling from his lips, would attempt to untangle the lines, usually getting frustrated and cutting the lines while admonishing us on keeping our poles from crossing. The 4 kids jockeyed for position on long drives. The girls were the first to get sick in the car, but Mike and I were pretty wily and managed to get in the car early to secure that choice seat behind dad, the seat which made it difficult for his arm to swat that far back. The downside was the fact that dad didn't believe in air conditioning and figured that's what windows are for. Driving with his right arm while his left elbow rested on the door sill holding a lit cigarette, the occupant of the seat behind dad needed cat-like reflexes to avoid the hot burning ash coming off the end of his cigarette following each drag.

Dad had that Irish sentimentality about him – the toughness countered by his willingness to be in touch with his emotions. I remember how he almost cried when the girls left for college and when they were married. He'd often speak at family functions – preceding his remarks with his famous statement "I look back…" And then he'd share memories, never of places or things – but always of people. You knew you were in for a long one when you heard Dad say "I look back." Kind of like what I'm doing now! Dad was very proud of us. He often told us how proud he was of us and that he loved us. The walls of his home office don't have a square inch of space left because of all the photos, articles, and awards given to his children – and a few to mom and himself. Dad expected each of us to work hard, be honest, and like him, to live up to our responsibilities. These were fundamental.

Dad's sense of humor was appreciated by some – debatable, I'm sure, for others. I was at the New York Deli a while back and the proprietors, Al and Tory Belsky, fine members of the Denver Jewish community, showed me a prized gift from my father. Now, you know that Jews do not believe in cremation… Despite that, Dad gave Al a certificate for a free cremation, valid for 30 days, not transferable. Al and Tory roar with laughter when they recall receiving that certificate.

Dad carried a card in his wallet that said "I am an important Catholic. In the event of serious illness, call a Bishop." Dad's sense of humor included his enjoyment cutting out rude ads and mailing these to his friends with no explanation – and I can attest to the fact that, in return, he was the recipient of plenty of very odd mail instigated by his pals. I think mom sanitized quite a bit of it so the grandkids wouldn't wonder too much about grandpa's interests.

Dad honored his Irish heritage. He loved his mother and treated her so lovingly in her older years after grandpa died – but Dad identified most closely with his father – a man who started as a lowly Irish mucker, using dad's words, on the Denver Fire Dept in the early 1900's. Dad's father was a huge factor in Dad's development. Grandpa was 2nd generation Irish in this country – and Dad was especially proud that his dad became assistant chief of the Denver Fire Dept, 2nd in command – a high achievement for an Irish Catholic with a grade school education. The only time I saw Dad cry was when his father died.

Dad became active in lots of Irish groups, and served for many years as president of the Denver St Patrick's Day Parade, what he called "the 3rd largest parade in the country." New York was indisputedly the largest parade. But Boston AND Chicago both claimed to be second largest – so rather than try to sort that out Dad publicized Denver's parade as the 3rd largest. The Celtic influence you hear today is one way to honor Dad's love of Irish history and music. One of his fundamentals was "don't forget who brought you to the dance." For Dad, that included his Irish ancestors who sacrificed much for the good of their families and their country.

But of all the groups Dad was involved in, none made him happier than OFI, Old Farts International. Dad was the founder and fabricated an entire history of the organization. National HQ in Cedar Rapids. International HQ in Kobe, Japan. Clearly, this was not a place to be if you take yourself too seriously. May I ask members of OFI to please stand? I want you guys to know how much Dad loved planning those meetings every month at the American Legion Post. And, after Dad couldn't drive anymore, many of you guys would pick Dad up and take him to the monthly meeting and look after him as he moved slowly with his walker. Your friendship and kindness toward Dad means more than I can say. That meeting was always one of the highlights of every month for Dad – and an outlet for his gargantuan sense of humor.

Last and most importantly, the best move Dad ever made was marrying Mom. Mom tells stories about how Dad didn't have a fraternity pin when they started dating, so he gave her his Miller's supermarket name badge as testimony to his regard for her. Mom would smirk when he told that story and Dad would feign disbelief that she didn't find it a high honor to wear his Miller's name badge. Mom was the yin to Dad's yang. She balanced him and showed him it was OK to sometimes take risks and make changes. Mom and Dad were devoted to each other. In his later years, as Dad's health worsened, Mom gently and lovingly cared for Dad in so many ways. They modeled a loving relationship – knowing when to persist and when to yield to the other.

Dad will be entombed at Rocky Mountain Memorial Park on Parker Road at Dartmouth - transported by retired Denver Fire Department Engineer Dan Farley and Denver Fire's "Museum Rig." Dad wanted to be a fireman, like his father who became an asst chief. But dad was too tall. Dad spent many evenings with his ear tuned to a scanner and Denver Fire Department radio traffic. Dad's career went a different direction, but a piece of his heart was always in fire service.

On behalf of my brother, Mike, and my sister, Kathy, we also want to acknowledge our sister Debbie. Debbie gave generously of her time to Dad. She worried a lot about Dad and was always the first among us to take on any responsibility for Dad's care. Thank you, Deb. Mike, Debbie and I want to acknowledge Kathy, as she was the one who used her nursing skills to figure out what the doctors couldn't when dad was in the hospital months ago. Kathy, you gave dad months more life with that diagnosis and we are grateful to you.

So, it comes down to this – family, friends, and the fundamentals.

That was Dad.

John Horan
February 7, 2010

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Services

Visitation
Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Vigil Service
Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
6:00 PM
Reception
Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
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Funeral Mass
Christ the King Church
830 Elm Street
Denver, CO US 80220
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
10:00 AM
Cemetery
Rocky Mountain Memorial Park
11148 East Dartmouth Avenue
Denver, CO US 80014
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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Charities

The Denver Hospice
501 South Cherry, Suite 700
Denver, CO US 80246
The HeartLight Center
11150 East Dartmouth Avenue
Denver, CO US 80014