1916 John 2023

John William Sekulich

November 17, 1916 — July 3, 2023

Lakewood, CO

John W. Sekulich, 106 ½, passed away peacefully at his home in Lakewood, CO July 3rd, 2023, with his wife, Charlotte, by his side. John is survived by his wife of 16 years, Charlotte (Schneider) Sekulich, her children Wendi (John) Medved,  Andrew (Tara) Schmid, and four grandchildren.  John is also survived by his sister, Frances Dagrieff (age 104) who lives in California.

He is survived by his  1st generation of nephews and nieces; Shirley Hancen, Dave McLellan, Dan Cook (Sheri), Candy Kossman (Stan), Paul Dagrieff (Mary), Mary Kay Anderson (Carl), Cully Marshall (Ginny), Jill Krantz (Dale), and Victor Meisinger.

John is also survived by a 2nd generation of nieces and nephews; John Hancen, Bill Schneider (GayAnn), Gina Fredrick (Kevin), Chris McLellan (Lori), Sheila Heimeri (David), Sheryl Anderson (Dan), Shauna Geist (Brett), Andrea Laca (Steve), Christina Maher (George), Pamela DeCarlo (Matt), Patti Chaplin, Joe Adducci (Shannon), Robert Cook, Lisa Kirkland (Justin), Melissa Cook (Greg), Eric Kossman (Tabatha), Abby Lawrence, Heather Ferreria (Scott), Leslie Varney, Scott Marshall (Jenna), Matthew Aerelius, and Samantha Meisinger. He was also blessed by 45 great-great and 27 great-great-great nieces and nephews.

 John is preceded in death by his first wife, Frances, of 56 years, his parents, Mary and Tom Sekulich, as well as seven sisters; Mary Swanson, Gladys Evans, Goldie Lowrey, Alli Slaton, Marty Shinnel, Betty Lou Messinger, and Zora Marshall. John is also preceded in death by several nieces and nephews including Marlene Swanson, Tommy Evans, Jackie Schneider (Bill), Pat McLellan, Regina Sis Adducci (Joe) and Debra Cook.  He is also preceded in death by many, many great-great and great-great-great nieces and nephews.  

John was born on November 17th, 1916, in Penrose, CO to Tom and Mary Sekulich. He was the seventh child of nine children. He spent his childhood years in Penrose, CO. He was incredibly involved in sports including high point man in basketball, baseball, and long-distance running.  As a senior in high school, he remembers riding his bike to an empty campus before the sun rose to pick up the bus and then driving around the rural community collecting all the school children. When classes were over and everyone dropped off, he'd park the bus at school and bike several miles back to his home. In the winter, the journey that earned him $1.00 a day was so brutal it froze his ears. “Oh man, talk about hurting. I had cauliflower ears for quite some time” he said. 

 The only son in a Penrose farming family of eight daughters, he grew up fast - happy, with no complaints- in the years after World War One.  Penrose Apple Days were particularly important to John. In 1937 he helped to start the big festival by playing in baseball tournaments. He recalled all the ladies in town baking apple pies and serving a piece of apple pie to every person who came to the festival. A big parade and lots of activities surrounding the festival, John was surrounded by family who came from all over Colorado and other states. John was honored as the Grand Marshall of the parade in 2022.

John would suffer much more in the service of others in just a few short years, as the wars in Europe and Asia escalated and - on December 7th, 1941 - reached United States shores. America hadn't yet entered the war; however, Sekulich was drafted into the Army as part of the nation's first peacetime conscription. He left for basic training, but a crisis at home soon called him back. His father was sick, and he needed to go back at the farm. John was at home, contemplating whether to take the army up on its offer of a permanent furlough, when Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor. John turned to his father for advice about what to do next. “My dad said, ‘I served in the army over there in Austria and you can go serve your country too. ’John’s patriotism and integrity was evident; he always took care of his men.

After training at Fort Crowder, Missouri, Tech Sgt. Sekulich went to war overseas with the 114th Signal Radio Intelligence Company, leading a team whose official mission was to run and repair cables so American commanders could communicate with each other on the battlefield. Retired Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback met John at his 100th birthday party and they became fast friends.  “At the time, the classified mission was a secret even to those who were tasked with making it happen,” Utterback said, “John was part of a unit that, really unbeknownst to the troops at the time, was spying on German communications.”   

 

John spent all of World War II in Europe. When World War II was over, John’s parents had moved to Denver and his dad was ill. He was fortunate to come to New York on a B24 bomber. John and some rookies flew from France to Iceland, picked up a sandwich for lunch there, and boarded to take off for New York. On the way to New York one of the engines went out on the B24 bomber. The rookies and John had sandwiches with them. He opened his sandwich and ate half of it and put the other half in his battle jacket. One of the young soldiers on the flight asked John,” Hey, what are you going to do with the other half of the sandwich?” John answered, “I don’t know if you noticed but one of the engines is out so we might need it for fish bait. A little later another engine went out. The pilot came back and said, “Well, it doesn't matter now, we're halfway there.” They did make it to New York and John found a train to Denver. He hailed a cab to go to his parents’ address. When he arrived the cab driver told him, “We don't charge World War II soldiers.” John knocked on the door at his parents’ house, his sisters answered the door and just screamed with delight. Everyone was so happy that he had come home from the war.

John met his future wife, RN Frances, while he and sister Alli were self-employed at their Delicatessen in Denver. He thrived self-employed later in a bar (joint) with two sisters, Alli and Marty, in Globeville.

At age 55, he was employed at SUNDSTRAND AEROSPACE as a metal plater.  He planned that employment to secure his Social Security.  After he retired, he and Frances moved to Canon City, Colorado where they enjoyed their retirement.  They enjoyed traveling, fishing, camping and hunting. Frances passed away in 2005.

Charlotte had moved to Canon City in 2006 and met him while he was fixing the swamp cooler on her roof at age 89.  John married Charlotte in 2007. They enjoyed fishing and traveled to Alaska and Boston before the anticipation of grandchildren moved them to Lakewood in 2013. The Rocky Mountain Honor Flight took them to Washington DC.  John flew in a B24 Bomber over Lincoln Nebraska at age 104 sponsored by the “Wish of a Lifetime Foundation.”

John loved to travel, hunt, garden, camp, fish, boxing when he was in the army, play ball and was very active in many organizations including the Slavonic Lodge, VFW #1771 for 45 years, Elks Lodges in Denver and Canon City.  John lived a very full life with amazing stories to share with anyone who would listen. He was a kind man who loved his family and others. John lived life well.

A Memorial Mass will be held for John at St. Jude Catholic Church, 9405 W. Florida Ave, on July 12th, at 11am. John will then be laid to rest at Fort Logan National Cemetery at 9am on July 13th. Please share memories and condolences in the online guestbook below.

To view the Memorial Mass livestream, please click on the following link:

https://bxcited.com/john-william-sekulich/

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John William Sekulich, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Mass

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

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