Obituaries

John P. Bjorkman

December 23, 1925 - December 26, 2018

John P. Bjorkman, passed away on December 26, 2018, three days after his 93rd birthday, at The Holmstad Retirement Community in Batavia, where he resided for the past ten years.

Prior to his move to Batavia, John lived in Lockport for more than 80 years. Born to Axel Philip and Mildred (Anderson) Bjorkman on December 23, 1925, he was the eldest of four Bjorkman children, including sisters Phyllis, Ruth and Jean. John attended Lockport public schools and Lockport Township High School, where he received Senior Honors in Athletics as a four-year letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. Several records that he set as quarterback of the football team stood for many years.

John graduated from Lockport High School in December 1943 during WWII, and immediately reported for duty in the U. S. Army Air Forces, Eighth Air Force. A tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, John flew twenty missions over Germany as a member of the 331 Bomb Squadron of the 94th Bomb Group, Royal Air Force Station, Bury St. Edmunds, England. In 2011, John visited the WWII Memorial on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., sponsored by Honor Flight Chicago. He was the last surviving member of his ten-man B-17 crew.

Following his honorable discharge from military service in 1946, John attended Bradley University, in Peoria, on the GI Bill.  At Bradley, he played four years at shortstop on the baseball team, and was a member of the 1950 team that received Bradley Athletic Hall of Fame honors. Earlier, he had signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs farm club in Janesville, WI, but decided to complete college instead. After earning a degree in business administration, John returned to Lockport to work for his father, Philip, a painting and decorating contractor.

In 1951, John married Jeanette E. Johnson of Joliet, at the Joliet Covenant Church.

The couple settled in Lockport where they raised two daughters, Lynn and Joan. John continued to work with his father until the early 1960s when he took over the painting business. Jeanette served as the company’s bookkeeper, and together they operated Bjorkman Decorating Service until their retirement in the late 1980s. John’s and Jeanette’s retirement years were filled with volunteer and church activities, caring for their two grandchildren, playing golf, visiting with family and friends in Lockport and Batavia—and for John, closely following Chicago Cubs baseball.

A member of Lockport Covenant Church for most of his life, and later, Hope and Batavia Covenant churches, John faithfully and joyfully served in the work of the church in many ways—as a deacon, trustee, and church chairman, among other roles. He was also involved in community and business groups, including the Lockport Lions Club and the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.

John is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Lynn Bjorkman and Arnold Alanen of Madison, WI, and Joan Bjorkman-Murray and John D. Murray of Naperville; and grandchildren, Britta Newell, and husband, Conrad, of Tacoma, WA, and John B. Murray of Chicago. Also surviving are John’s sisters and brothers-in-law, Ruth and Stephen Quigley of Savannah, GA, and Jean and Gary Maiwald of Leland, NC, along with many nieces and nephews, and relatives in Sweden.

John was preceded in death by his parents; Jeanette, his wife of 63 years, in 2015; his sister and brother-in-law, Phyllis and Tom Gumbrell; and his sisters- and brothers-in-law, LeRoy and Lillian Johnson; Linnea and Lester Johnson; Lawrence and Kathryn Johnson; and George and Eileen Johnson.

John’s family gratefully acknowledges the residents and staff of The Holmstad for the deep friendships that enriched his life while a resident there. The family also expresses their gratitude to the staff of Michealsen Health Center at The Holmstad, and CovenantCare Hospice for their kindness and support during John’s brief illness.

On January 26 at 11:00 a.m., a memorial service will be held at the Batavia Covenant Church, 1314 Main St., Batavia, preceded by a visitation at 10:00 a.m. Inurnment will be at Lockport City Cemetery in the spring. Memorial contributions in John’s name may be directed to The Holmstad Benevolent Care Fund, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy., Batavia, IL, 60510.

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