John Richard Werner
September 13, 1938 ~ January 4, 2022
John Richard Werner was born on September 13, 1938, as the second son and child of Amandus “Mandy” and Ann Werner in Joliet, Illinois. Jack spent his early years running around the home Mandy built in Jesse Street. When he was eight years old, Jack contracted polio. His family was quarantined and he ended up in the hospital for several weeks over Christmas that year. While his case was mild enough that he never needed an iron lung, the muscles in his left leg were damaged enough that he was never expected to walk. Never one to concede to the limitations set by others, Jack did walk. He developed a gait that basically swung the damaged leg forward, locked his knee and moved his right leg forward. Since the polio also damaged the ability of the leg to grow, the doctors had to use staples in Jack’s right leg to slow down its growth so the legs would be closer to the same length, making it easier for him to walk. During his teen years, Jack spent summers with a friend helping his dad build homes in the area. He learned lots of carpentry and plumbing skills and just showed an excellent work ethic. However, his parents were very concerned about his ability to provide for himself, so they asked a wealthy uncle to help pay for Jack to go to college. He became the first in his family to graduate from college. Once he graduated, his first order of business was to move anywhere where there was no snow! He was offered a position as an engineer with Honeywell Corporation in sunny Florida. He quickly made friends and started the swinging social scene, spending weekends partying with his coworkers. It was at one such party that he happened upon a cute secretary. He spent the evening flirting with her, but neglected to ask for her phone number. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that he found her phone number in a company directory. Three months later he proposed to Arlene Burke, and they were married four months later. Jack and Arlene moved into a home built by Arlene’s dad, and had two girls, Diana and Phyllis, over the next several years. When Phyllis was a couple of months old, Jack accepted a position in California with Burroughs Corporation. The young family drove across the country in a station wagon: two young parents, a two year old and a two month old baby, and a barking Great Dane! Rumor has it they were pulled over by Highway Patrol along the way, but after hearing the crying baby and barking dog, the officer let the frazzled father off with a warning and his sympathies. Another daughter, Linda, soon joined the family. And not long after moving, Jack’s sister Lois and her husband moved into the area, along with their three children. This started a weekend tradition of the two families spending Sundays together. Vacations were often spent together, at least in part, as well. Jack and Arlene entertained others often, as well. There were always people coming over on weekends, playing pool and after they moved into a home with a pool, hanging out by the pool, BBQing and just having fun. As the girls grew up, they were encouraged to bring their friends over, as well. Many parties and gatherings were held at the Werner home. Jack was usually somewhere in the center of the action, drinking and manning the BBQ and just entertaining everyone. He always made sure everyone was involved in whatever antics were happening, that they had food to eat and something to drink and were having a good time. It was rarely quiet at the Werner home! The girls grew up, married and started families of their own, and brought their children over regularly. Grandpa Jack bravely spent time with even the youngest of the grandchildren, and was even known to babysit, even when Grandma wasn’t around as backup! When Jack retired, he and Arlene bought a motor home and started spending time traveling around the country, visiting family and friends and seeing the sights. They relocated to a home in Vista, California that had plenty of space for the RV, a small orchard of citrus trees, and plenty of space between them and their neighbors. Their social schedule slowed somewhat, but people still came by regularly, whether from out of town or just local family coming by to share a meal. As Jack’s health started to give him problems, and after a close call in the hospital resulting in family flying in from all over the country, Jack and Arlene were encouraged to move closer to Diana so she could help out when they needed it. They moved back to Orange County in 2015, when they started attending church with Ken and Diana. Jack hadn’t repented and accepted Christ at this point in his life, but he started asking questions about what he was hearing at church. He started reading his Bible and asking questions about what he was reading. And as his health declined, his understanding of who Jesus is started to grow. At one point in 2019, he turned his life over to Christ. Instead of viewing inappropriate media, he read his Bible and blogs and spent time learning more about his Savior. Instead of drowning his concerns in drink, he started turning them over to Christ. Eventually he and Arlene even moved to Texas to be part of the church plant. Jack found that his body was failing. He had congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney failure, high blood pressure and a host of other problems. Yet he remained cheerful to the end. The last couple of weeks found him growing weaker, requiring dialysis before the normal period between had passed, blood pressure dropping, and finally, he contracted pneumonia. The doctors realized there was nothing else they could do, so they sent him home on hospice Monday. Tuesday afternoon he took his last breath. Jack’s family is delighted to think of him no longer in pain, able to walk, jump and run, see and hear and even breathe! We eagerly anticipate the day we will join him with his Savior. Jack is survived by his wife of almost sixty years, Arlene; by daughters Diana Murphy, Phyllis Helton and Linda Menkes; by grandchildren Daniel Murphy, Philip Murphy, Benjamin Menkes, Elizabeth Menkes, Nicholas Menkes, Alexander Menkes and Katherine Menkes; by his younger sisters Katherine Brown and Karen Wegner; thirteen nephews and nieces and many grand-nieces and nephews.