John L. McCallister

John L. McCallister

Beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle, John McCallister passed away at age 95.
Survived by his loving and caring wife, Sylvia.
Preceded in death by his loving and devoted wife of 63 years, Maren “Chessie.”
Also survived by daughter, Maren Pamela; sons, John and wife Connie, Bob and wife Karen; grandchildren, Josh and wife Cathy, Robin and husband Brad, Nate and wife Abby; seven great-grandchildren, Caleb, Jacob, Ava, Riley, Ella, Lila, Logan; sister Robbie, and niece Robin and nephews Duncan and Kirk and their families; sister-in-law Jacque, and niece Maren and her family; and wife Sylvia’s families with daughters Sara, Polly, Marilyn, and son Don.
With a Joie de Vivre, John stood straight and tall throughout his life. Born and raised in small town, Carmi, Illinois, to a strong, energetic, and loving family, and amongst many nurturing relatives. He ran free with boyhood chums, picked cherries for grandma’s pies, rode horseback to bring water to the fellows threshing grain in the fields.
John was elated to attend Culver Military Academy, graduating as a Cadet Captain in 1940. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta at Purdue for two years where he pinned and married Maren Chesnutt “Chessie” before being called to active duty as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Infantry Division. Trained for active combat with his men and at the age of 21, his Sergeant told him that they would follow him anywhere. John was transferred to a small Ultra Top Secret unit of Brits, traveling undercover by Jeep to intercept coded German messages and deliver them to US Army commanders… once handing Omar Bradley a decoded message directly from Hitler specifying a massive German troop deployment subsequently thwarted by the Allies, promoted to Captain.
He returned to the US in 1945 and graduated from Indiana University in 1948 and began work for G.E. in Schenectady, NY until the Korean War. He was called back by the army and worked in Washington D.C. at the Indo China desk where he briefed the top Generals of that era in the Pentagon each week, promoted to Major.
After the Korean War, in 1952, with Maren and young son, John, he moved back to Illinois…to Chicago where he began his 32 year career with Zenith Radio (Electronics). He thrived at Zenith and loved the heady business atmosphere in advertising, sales and product planning, retiring as Vice President of Marketing in 1984. He and Maren made lasting friendships, threw great parties, enjoyed boating at Fox Lake and later at Marco Island. After family, golf was his greatest pleasure, with his chip shots stopping on the green for 80 years. He enjoyed working with plans and architects on details of the family’s Park Ridge and Northbrook homes. He helped a variety of charity organizations in significant ways – Chicago Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, American Cancer Society, and taught Sunday school and served on the Trustee Board in the Village Presbyterian Church where he and Chessie were members for 41 years.
He was a great father to three grateful children (John, Bob, Pam), building skating rinks in the backyard, providing fun interesting kid-friendly homes and wonderful neighborhoods to play in. He and his grandkids and great grandkids had a fun, wonderful chemistry. He took diligent, loving care of wife, Maren, in the final years of her life at Boutwells Landing in Oak Park Heights, MN.
At Boutwells, he was involved in a myriad of committees and clubs where he met and fell in love with vivacious and charming Sylvia McCormack. Married in 2010, they had seven blessed years together with family activities, travel, and with their many friends at Boutwells Landing. In his final years, Sylvia’s loving and tireless care of John was a joy and inspiration to witness.
Lived in the spirit of Joie de Vivre, now in peaceful rest, and forever in our hearts.
Celebration of Life at Boutwells Landing – Gables Auditorium, 13575 58th Street, Oak Park Heights, at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 29th. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to: The Parkinson Foundation, http://www.parkinsonmn.org or Presbyterian Homes & Services Foundation – designate Boutwells Landing, http://www.preshomes.org/inner.iml/get_to_know_us/foundation.

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