John A. Williams
SUN PRAIRIE – John A. Williams, age 76 of Sun Prairie, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.
Let’s face it! John could build, repair, and repurpose anything. He wasn’t just moderately skilled in many things; he was a master of most things mechanical. John was born on Oct. 24, 1941, in Madison, Wisconsin, to Arthur John and Beulah “Bobbie” (Fisher) Williams. Cute as a button, he was. He had his father’s large, wide-set eyes and his mother’s long, thin nose. There were two older sisters to guide and play with him. Nine years later, his mom returned unexpectedly from the hospital with a small, black-haired creature wearing a pointed hat. John exclaimed, “My new sister is a witch?!” That sentiment didn’t change over the years. John was stricken with polio in 1952, a few days after his 13-year-old sister died of the disease. John required an emergency tracheotomy to survive. Our father, who would normally faint at the sight of blood, held the light so the surgeon could perform the procedure. John spent the next month in an iron lung that helped him to breath. Maybe that’s where his fascination with machines started?
In his teens, John could often be found under the hood of some car with his friends. Revving engines and butts sticking out from under the car hood is how I recall my early years with my brother. John loved cars! He especially loved the family Chevy Impala–he drove it fast and earned a few tickets. Our dad solved that problem by getting a family car that John would be embarrassed to drive. We can thank John for the ugly Rambler station wagon that replaced the beautiful blue Impala. John’s love of cars lasted his whole life and included helping his son, Bob, build and race go-karts–an activity they both treasured.
Master fabricator. John worked in the sheet metal industry for several decades. For a time, he had his own company and eventually retired from Kilgust Mechanical in Madison. He shared his skills and time with his son who turned his dad’s teaching into a career in the HVAC business. “He had been preparing me for this wonderful career my wholelife,” Bob said. Together, they continued to build–a new house for each of them.
Building. Fixing. John married his best friend Carol in 1982 and they combined families. It was challenging in the beginning, but with much humor and love, John and Carol built a strong, solid family unit. They might have been called The Brady Bunch of Sun Prairie. One day, Carol and the girls managed to get the car stuck. “Where’s the car?” John asked when they came into the house. “In the sandbox,” replied Carol. You’ll need to ask them to explain the details. It’s one of many events my brother endured in this household of fun and funny females.
Refining. Coping. Surviving. As John aged, he began to exhibit symptoms of post-polio syndrome: wasting muscles, more difficulty breathing and pain. He dealt as best he could. It slowed him down but did not defeat him. He continued to be our hero. John was proud to be honored at the 2012 St. Mary’s Hospital centennial celebration and to have his story featured in their Life Happens Here book. Even now, you can Google “polio and St. Mary’s Hospital” and you will see the photograph of 10-year-old John in an iron lung surrounded by his parents. While telling his story to the interviewers, John found that many of his previously blocked childhood memories were returning. He wanted to capture them and asked me to help him write his story. I eagerly agreed, but I regret that we never found the time to do it.
Fixing. Building. Tinkering. John built a fully equipped workshop in his garage. He enjoyed many hours fixing and creating in his legendary workshop with his children and grandchildren. The entire family loved hanging out with John in his special place, working on everything from large engine repair to making pens and earrings. All of us knew that if something needed fixing, you called John!
I am grateful for my sister-in-law, Carol. I believe John needed this easy-going, funny, soft-hearted person to be his mate and best friend. Some of us in the Williams clan can be surly at times. But, the strong Norwegian always held her own and John never wanted to be parted from her. John and Carol did everything together. They especially enjoyed their 25-year tradition of Monday night dinners with the Maciags at Toby’s Supper Club.
Juicy Fruit gum. Root beer barrel candy. Toto the dog. These are the things my daughters remember about John. Uncle John was like a superhero to them because he could do anything and everything and he freely shared his love. I will always remember my diners out with John and Carol. He was willing to drive to Monona because he knew I didn’t feel safe driving at night. That simple act of love defines my big brother and though I know life without him will never be the same, John taught us all to make the most of what we’re dealt in life.
His legacy. We will move forward with his spirit forever in our hearts. John influenced the lives of so many, especially his children and grandchildren in whom he took great pride. “He was my inspiration and my hero in life. All I’ve ever wanted is to be like my grandpa. To be able to fix half the things he could. To be able to do half the things he could do. Almost every passion and skill I have, I learned from him.” ~Ryan Williams
“You were the hardest working man I knew. Everything is perfect in Heaven so there is nothing that needs to be fixed or made better. It’s time to relax, Dad.” ~Bob Williams
John is survived by his wife Carol Kjome Williams; son, Bob (Pam) Williams; daughter, Kelly (Jim) Jazdzewski; three step-daughters, Jill (Bob) Hill, Kris McIntosh and Amy (Andy) Kerr; 11 grandchildren: Jonathan, Ryan, and Connor Williams; Andrew, Megan, and Patrick Jazdzewski; Jessica (Rasheed) Jackson, Nicole and Madelyn McIntosh; Sam and Claire Kerr; and two great-granddaughters, Amaya and Aliyah Jackson. John is also survived by his sisters, Jeannine Bultman and Cheryl Williams; and many nieces and nephews who loved him dearly.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Nancy Williams; and brother-in-law, Dale Bultman.
A memorial service will be held at LIVING WATER CHURCH, 3075 Prospect Dr., Sun Prairie on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, beginning at noon. Visitation will be held at the church on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until the time of service.
All Faiths Funeral & Cremation Services
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