His family and friends mourn the death and celebrate the life of John Warren (Jack) Day, Junior. Jack was born in 1922 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, the first child of Harriet and John Warren Day. Before starting her family – which would grow to include 4 children – Harriet was a “career girl” who worked for the American Red Cross and Y.M.C.A, including a posting in Europe providing welfare services and spiritual support to American servicemen during World War I. John Warren Senior also served in the war, in France as a chaplain. He would go on to serve as the Dean of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, Kansas from 1927 to 1957.
Jack left Antioch college during World War II to enlist in the US Army. During the occupation of Japan, he led a unit charged with finding the remains of US servicemen who died in the Allied bombing campaign or subsequent to being captured. This work took him to Hiroshima, where he witnessed the devastation visited upon that city by the August 1945 atomic bombing. Aspects of his work there remained classified until the 1980s.
His time in Japan began a lifelong interest in the country’s culture, history, and people. After the war he followed his father into the Episcopal ministry, graduating from Union Theological Seminary, where he took classes from Reinhold Niebuhr. He went on to lead congregations in Wheatland and Riverton, Wyoming. He was known as an energetic, progressive pastor who challenged his listeners to live their faith.
Jack lived enthusiastically and vigorously. His eagerness to connect with people mortified his children when he struck up conversations with strangers in public. We came to know Jack two ways: first from the direct force of his personality – avid, curious, outgoing – and secondly from the stories he told from his life. Stories of work: as a shoe salesman at age 12, a worker on the Studebaker assembly line in college, a tour guide, a commodities trader, and other pursuits; stories of travel: in Japan, Europe, Mexico, and across the American west; stories of people, books, cars, and events related in vivid detail from his remarkable memory.
Jack met Martha Page in Topeka when they were both in middle school, having been matched with her in a dancing class in spite of Martha being a head taller. They were married in 1949. Martha’s death in 2004 was a terrible blow to Jack. Martha and Jack instilled in their four children a passion for social justice, a dedication to service, and a love of wilderness. Jack is survived by those four children – John, Tom, Sarah and Andy – seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
Jack lived his last 20 months on Vashon with daughter Sarah Day and “favorite” son-in-law Tim Morrison. He benefited from our island’s support infrastructure, including the Vashon Care Network and Care Closet. His time on Vashon was greatly enriched by expert care, loving kindness, and genuine friendship from his amazing caregivers Angie Meier, Jennifer Lynch, and Jacqui Lown and special sub-caregivers, Chris Jovanovich, John Lucas, and Natalie Olsen.
Jack’s vital presence and skills as a raconteur left indelible images in the memories of people whose lives intersected with his. A favorite: Jack behind the wheel of his beloved Westphalia, Martha in the navigator’s seat, a Hummel serenade playing on the cassette deck, heading out on another road trip adventure.