John Jelinek was an intelligent, kind and generous man who loved the outdoors and was passionate about duck hunting, his wife Barbara said.
A founding member and 26-year vice president of the Northwest Indiana Waterfowl USA chapter, he traveled as far as Texas and Canada finding the best fields to hunt and lakes to fish on his boat “Bite Me.”
“My husband was never the type to sit around,” Barbara Jelinek said. “He loved the thrill of good hunting.”
John, who began fishing at age 15, enjoyed introducing the sport to area youth.
She continuously hears about her husband’s acts of kindness.
“One man said John picked him up and carried him to a duck blind,” she said. “He was such a gentle man. He took the time for him because he always wanted people on hunts to enjoy them. He was just a good-hearted person.”
Mechanically inclined and able to fix anything, he repaired cars and air conditioning units — even in the middle of the night — without compensation.
After graduating from Calumet High School, John Jelinek, of Valparaiso, worked at Gary Sheet and Tin. After 36 years at the steel mill, Jelinek retired beginning a part-time job at Safety Training and Technical Service Inc.
A U.S. Navy veteran, John served aboard the USS Pocono with his brother as an electrician for four years and in the reserves two years. He was an Ainsworth Volunteer firefighter for 34 years.
Married 43 years, the couple met on a blind date, corresponded and seeing each other when he was on leave. They married as soon as Jelinek completed his tour of duty.
Like his dad, John was a jokester, who enjoyed playing little tricks on people and smiling afterwards when he caught them.
Barbara Jelinek said she will miss everything about her husband, especially his gentleness.