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Farewell, Uncle Jack
By Bill Fischer, Executive Director, EAA Warbirds of America
November 20, 2014 - John A. “Uncle Jack” Morrissey, EAA 282894/Warbirds 6899, departed on his final mission on November 16, 2014, at the age of 91 years young. The long-time contributor to EAA Warbirds magazine as an author, editor, and regular columnist in “Uncle Jack’s Corner” passed away in Phoenix, Arizona, after a short illness.
Jack was born on November 5, 1923. Upon graduation from Iron Mountain High School in Michigan, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1941. Jack was earning a rating of Machinists Mate in Jacksonville, Florida, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Jack ultimately was stationed in the Pacific Theater, where he served for the duration World War II.
After the war, Jack settled down and married his sweetheart, Marion Speel, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Together they raised five children. As a hobby, Jack enjoyed aviation and the many friendships he established in the EAA and Warbird communities.
He was a regular at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, interviewing our pilots, volunteers, and members. He had a gift for finding those fascinating stories about the aircraft, restorers, and people who make our little slice of aviation so special. In his later years, he could be found in the Warbirds Volunteer Food Service Pavilion where he would meet and greet our pilots, volunteers, and members. While the volunteers handed out coffee and sandwiches, Uncle Jack handed out hugs and handshakes.
You could find him at the Reno Air Races, hawking baseball caps in front of the Balz Out Hangar. His “Reno Special” was legendary. The deal was for airline pilots only - $10 each or two for $25! On more than one occasion, Uncle Jack sealed the $25 deal.
His folksy style, quick wit, and insightful thoughts will be dearly missed. Uncle Jack often closed his column with “Ain’t life grand?”
Well, Uncle Jack, you certainly lived a grand life and we’re all the better for knowing you and calling you our friend. Blue skies and tailwinds, Uncle Jack!
Editor’s Note: Uncle Jack Morrissey had written several columns in advance and they will be included in upcoming issues of Warbirds magazine.