John Leonard “Jack” Coakley, Jr.

John Leonard “Jack” Coakley, Jr., 93, of Kansas City, Missouri, died November 17, 2019 at St. Luke’s South Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas.

Jack was born March 28, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas to Helen Elizabeth (Struck) and John Leonard Coakley, and grew up on a homestead in Tulelake, California. After 8th grade in 1940 the family moved to a small farm in Fallon, Nevada, where Jack graduated from Churchill County High School in 1944.

Jack enlisted in the Navy that same year and served on the USS Moffett, USS Edgecombe and USS Kula Gulf. He was released from Military Service on July 21, 1946 at Lido Beach, New York as a Water Tender Third Class. Following military service Jack attended Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri followed by Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It was during his studies that Jack married Dolores Keegan on September 16, 1950. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in June 1951. He started his career with the Wisconsin Highway department, and a year later while visiting his parents in Kansas City accepted a position with the prestigious Burns & McDonnell with a starting wage of $1.86 per hour.

Being part of the “Slide Rule” generation, his career also took him to Haskins, Riddle & Sharp and Fairbanks Morse in Kansas City, Kansas, as well as earning a Master’s Degree at the University of Kansas. He spent the bulk of his career at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas City, Kansas. His children are especially fond of the coloring book Jack penned in 1971 called “The Adventures of Walter Waterdrop,” which he had illustrated by his daughter, Mary. Jack retired from EPA in 1989, and sadly lost his wife that same year.

When his children were growing up Jack would take them out for father/child birthday dinners as a special treat. He was a kind, dedicated father and shared his hobbies, stories, and adventurous spirit with them often. He enjoyed woodworking, camping, taking walks, volunteering and practicing his faith. Jack was fortunate to find a partner that shared his interests in his golden years, and he and the lovely Jane Ratcliffe were married January 17, 2004 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Together, Jack and Jane pursued art, faith, and a deep care for others. Jack volunteered in numerous ways with the Catholic church, including visiting sick or homebound parishioners, or dutifully counting donations at St. Pius X and St Francis Xavier churches. He also continued to pursue his love of learning by taking classes at Rockhurst University well into his 70’s where he received a Bachelor of Arts in May 2002. He then served as president of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Print Society in 2006 – 2008.
Jack loved people and appreciated all he’d seen over his lifetime. He regularly donated blood and plasma (received a plaque for donating 20 gallons) to the Community Blood Center. He said the most amazing changes in his lifetime were the telephone, automobiles and farm equipment.

Jack Coakley is survived by his wife, Jane Ratcliffe of the home; his children, Jackie (Chuck) Catlett, Mary (Richard) Pegg, Sheila Coakley, Kevin (Lisa) Coakley, Colleen Wilcox, Kathleen (Ron) Steppe; 13 grandchildren: Jason (Sara) Sander, Nicole (Stephen) Turner, Corey Wilcox, Jennifer (Michael) Wilson, Rachael Pegg, Ryan Wilcox, Rebecca Coakley, Maura (Aaron) Lawrence, Kristen (Derrick) Ewing, Sean (Madi Landi) Steppe, Megan (Adam) Maletich, Kimberly (Andrew) Tomaw, Erin (Josh) Knight; 17 great-grandchildren with another due in January; Sister-in-law, Jane Coakley; nieces and nephews and cousins.

Jack was preceded in death by his first wife, Dolores; daughter, Marian; son, Timothy; grandson, Colin Pegg; great-grandsons, Henry and Hudson Ewing; his parents; and brothers, Jim and Bill.

In July 2002 Jack wrote a poem he titled “Life”

Life is now,
What was, is no longer,
What will be, is not yet,
I remember what was,
But can never return to it,
I anticipate what will be,
But can not bring it to now,
The present fleeting moment,
Is all there is,
Live it well.


Memorial Mass on Saturday, November 23 at 11:00 A.M. at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 1001 E 52 St. Visitation will be at 10:00 A.M. and light refreshments will be served following Mass.
Burial will be at Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Higginsville, Missouri.


Memorial contributions can be made to St. Francis Xavier “Emergency Assistance” Food Pantry 1001 E 52 St, Kansas City, MO 64110 or Maguire Davis Gilner Foundation 15112 S Arapaho Drive, Olathe, KS 66062 (Angel Babies).

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Posted in Kansas City Obituaries, Obituaries | on Thursday, Nov. 21st 2019 | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “John Leonard “Jack” Coakley, Jr.”

  1. Peg Hornsby Says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful story honoring Jack’s life. I’ve only known Jack these last few years. Watching Jane and Jack navigate these last few years has been nothing short of an inspiring love story.
    Holding you all close , especially you, Jane.
    Peg Hornsby

  2. Bill and Jane Snyder Says:

    We send our sincere condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father, grandfather, great-grandfather. May the happy times you remember soften your sorrow as you mourn his passing. God bless.

  3. Paige Huffstutler Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. Anne Mischlich Pearson Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I remember many great times in the old neighborhood and dad and him going to EPA everyday.

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