John E. Wall
John Edmund Wall, age 91, died peacefully on October 30, 2017 in his home with his wife and children at his side. John was born in 1926 in Chicago Illinois, son of Mary Agnes (Davis) and John Edward Wall. John was the oldest of five children. His siblings include Francis (Pete) Wall (Eleanor) and Edward Wall (Peggy) – both deceased, Maripat Berry (Thomas), and Kevin Wall (Valerie).
John grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. After graduating early from St. Ignatius High School in 1943 at the age of 17, John enlisted in the United States Navy. He trained as a Combat Air Crewman on carrier-based SB2C ‘Helldiver’ dive-bombers and achieved the rank of U.S. Navy Aviation Petty Officer, Third Class.
John graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH in 1950 with a B.A. degree in Philosophy and was awarded the Archbishop McNicholas Philosophy Medal. Throughout his life, John placed a high value on education and was a lifelong learner and avid reader up until the last days of his life. John donated numerous scholarships to Edgewood High School graduates as well as St Mary’s Hospital Nursing School students.
On September 6, 1952, John married JoAnne Verbest, a nursing graduate of Marquette University, and the oldest daughter of Adrienne and Frank C. Verbest. Together, John and JoAnne raised 11 children, five sons and six daughters, and they were blessed with 23 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Wall children and grandchildren were a constant presence at Edgewood Campus School and Edgewood High School for decades.
John and his family enjoyed many wonderful adventures and worldwide travels together. He shared his passion for outdoor sports with his children, especially skiing, sailing, biking, and scuba diving. John was proud of his dual U.S. / Irish citizenship and heritage, and shared his love of Ireland with his children and grandchildren through a trip back to their roots in Roscommon and Cork Counties, Ireland.
John enjoyed a long career in business management working for a variety of companies before assuming leadership of Demco, Inc. as president in 1968. Ten years later, John and his key managers purchased the company, and together with their 50 coworkers built the small business into a leading international direct marketer of library and school supplies. John cared deeply about providing a supportive environment for his coworkers and high quality service to his customers. In 2007, he founded Wall Family Enterprise, Inc. to include additional companies with a focus on his passion for lifelong learning.
John was a strong believer in family-owned businesses and was a founding member of the Loyola Family Business Center in Chicago and the UW Family Business Center in Madison, WI. John worked to instill civic values in his children through his service and philanthropy in the Madison community. He worked actively throughout his life to assist a wide variety of community organizations and churches, including Edgewood High School and the Society of St Vincent De Paul. John further served the community as Chair of the United Way of Dane County and Downtown Madison Rotary, and as Committee Chair of Boy Scout Troop 5. Of his many volunteer activities, John was most proud of his 40 years of service as a volunteer National Ski Patroller at Devil’s Head Ski Resort where he helped establish its first board of directors.
“It’s about people” was more than the motto John embraced for his company. It represented the way he lived his life through caring for coworkers, family, and community. John thought of all his coworkers as family and gave generously of his time and attention. John will be remembered for his love of family, co-workers, and community through his generosity, strength, courage, work ethic, and perseverance.
John is survived by his wife JoAnne Wall and 10 of his 11 children, Mary Yeager (Jim), Madonna Binkowski (Brad), Anne Wall (Tom Rogina), Maureen Wall, Patrick Wall (Kathy), Kevin Wall (Cara), Brendan Wall (LeAnna), Monica Burdsall (Tim), Terrence Wall (Helen), and Regina Wall (Dick Dorworth), as well as 23 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. John was preceded in death by his 16-year-old son, John Francis Wall.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM on Tue Nov 21, 2017 at ST PETER CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5001 N. Sherman Ave, Madison A Christian Burial service will take place on Tuesday November 21 at 3:15pm at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, where John will be laid to rest with military honors next to his son John Francis. Visitation to celebrate John’s life will take place from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM on Mon Nov 20, 2017 at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road.
The family extends its deepest thanks to John’s doctors, especially Dr. Al Musa of SSM St. Mary’s/Dean Clinic and the many wonderful nurses and caregivers at St. Mary’s Hospital, SSM Hospice, and Senior Helpers who ministered to John with sincere care.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s memory to some of his favorite charities: Edgewood High School, Boy Scouts of America Troop 5 Cabin Repair Fund (c/o Maple Bluff Village Center, 18 Oxford Place Madison WI 53704), and the Madison Literacy Network.
Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
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