John Bernard Wathen “Jack”
John Bernard Wathen “Jack”, age 83, passed away peacefully at home with his loving family by his side on Friday, April 14, 2017. He was born on June 5, 1933 in Fresno, CA to James A. and Mary Pearl Wathen.
Jack grew up at 4406 E. Washington Ave., Fresno, Ca where his father built the family home that contributed to the family’s home building legacy, and most importantly it planted the “Home Building Tradition” in Jack’s earliest roots. Jack came from a large family being the second youngest of 8 children. Working hard and playing hard, along with a strong devotion to God was instilled in Jack at a very early age.
His education began at St. John’s grade school for grades 1 through 6, then he was a member of the 1951 graduating class at San Joaquin Memorial High School, and finally he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1955 at the University of California at Berkeley.
In later years, during his career, he obtained his General Building Contractor License and Real Estate Broker License, both of which he used extensively in his business with his Brothers / Partners at Wathen Brothers Homes, aka Headliner and Mansionette Homes. Jack contributed significantly in his career to the more than 10,000 homes that were built in the San Joaquin Valley and were so well known for their legendary quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
Jack met for the first time the love of his life, Doreen Johnson, in the 7th grade. She was his one and only love to whom he remained devoted for 64 years in their married lives together until his passing. They had their wedding on November 27, 1952, after enjoying memorable courtship years at San Joaquin Memorial together. Jack and Doreen lovingly nurtured and raised 6 children. Gerry was the oldest, then Mark, Janet, John, Eileen, and finally Ann who was the youngest of the siblings. Jack loved and cherished the next generation of grandchildren: Sadie who married Joey Simonson, Nate, Jessie, Hannah, Taylor, Russell, Josh, and Zac; and his three great grandchildren, Lorelie, Mathilda, and Zeke.
At San Joaquin Memorial, Jack was President of his class for 2 years, and the Student Body President in his Senior year. Jack was not only gifted academically, but was also a true athlete, as can be attested by him being honored in the 1st group of inductees into the SJM Hall of Fame. While attending SJM he was the MVP in Football for 2 of the 4 years that he played, in addition to obtaining 14 letters (Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Track and Field). The highlight of Jack’s Football career at SJM was in his Junior year when he played on the undefeated Valley Championship Team.
Jack worked extremely hard in the home building / development business to support his family, and was always there for them when they needed him. He played an active role as President on the Advisory Board of both Sacred Heart, and Saint Anthony's Elementary Schools, and was active with the SJM Dads’ Club where his 6 children attended school for numerous years. He proudly supported his children in all their sports activities and social events during their elementary and high school years. He was extremely proud that all 6 of his children, in addition to 2 of his grandchildren had the opportunity to attend SJM, where he had so many lasting memories. He loved his family. Some of the strongest assets he taught them were: how he led by example, walk the walk by having a strong work ethic, and making the family his top priority in his day to day life. Jack was a member of the Knights of Columbus (4th degree) at Saint Anthony’s Church and always looked forward to serving as an usher for the 8am masses on Sundays.
Jack was a “Hero” to all of his children and grandchildren in so many ways. He created the kind of great memories that last for a lifetime. Jack loved the outdoors, especially the time he shared with the Family members in Shaver Lake at the family cabin enjoying various activities, such as skiing, fishing, hiking, boating, and sharing quality time together which will forever be remembered in their hearts.
The Wathen Family, along with his brothers and nephews, contributed to numerous Charities during Jack’s life. The donation of a new SJM Football Stadium Press Box that honored the Family name was one of the ones that he was most proud.
Jack in his Retirement years occupied much of his time with two special groups of guys, including riding his bicycle to the coffee shop each morning to visit his “Coffee Buddies” and share stories; and playing basketball several times a week at the gym with his “Basketball Buddies.” Jack always spoke highly of “All His Buddies” and enjoyed their company immensely.
Jack is survived by his wife Doreen; his son Gerry Wathen, son Mark Wathen and his wife Nancy, daughter Janet Wathen Wright and her husband David, son John Wathen and his wife Lori, daughter Eileen Wathen Wilner, daughter Ann Wathen; his sister Pat Wathen; his sister-in-law Patricia Johnson; his brother-in-law Larry Johnson; 8 grandchildren; 3 great grandchildren; and 18 nephews and nieces.
A Recitation of the Holy Rosary and Mass will be held at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Friday April 28, 2017 at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at Holy Spirit Catholic Church reception hall located at 355 E. Champlain, Fresno, CA 93720, which all are encouraged to attend to celebrate Jack’s life.
Remembrances: SJM High School, 1406 N. Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93703; Right to Life of Central CA, 1742 E. Griffith Way, Fresno, CA 93726; Poverello House, 412 F Street, Fresno, CA, 93706.