John R. Rodwell
March 2, 2017

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  John R. Rodwell, a retired engineer and Korean War Veteran passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Thursday morning, March 2, 2017. He was 87 years old.

Jack was born in Boston, the son of the late John F. and Laura Rodwell. He grew up in the North End and Medford. At the age of fifteen, his father passed away leaving his mother with 3 young children. At the age of 17 with his mother’s permission, he enlisted in the Air Force. He served in the Air Force a period and then transferred to the Army. He was a dedicated soldier and was even offered the opportunity to attend Officer’s Training School. He spent over 2 years in Japan during the 1945 to 1952 United States Occupation of Japan. He was honorably discharged from the Army and was a Veteran of the Korean War. Jack was extremely proud of his military service and was often seen around town wearing one of his many of military related hats. Jack was a very active member of Burlington’s Disabled American Veteran’s organization. He was also very active in the Burlington Veteran of Foreign Wars organization. He served as Commander for almost 10 years and also served as District Commander for a number of years. He proudly participated in parades, memorial ceremonies, and Veterans events.

Jack had left Medford High School early so he could enter the military and help support his family. He knew the importance of an education. So he went back and earned his GED. He then went to Fitchburg State and earned a Bachelor’s in Industrial Science graduating Cum Laude. He didn’t stop there. He went to Suffolk University and at the age of 40 and graduated Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Jack worked as an engineer at Raytheon for 16 years working on highly classified projects in Raytheon’s Missile Division. After Raytheon he worked as a consultant at Hanscom Air Force Base until he retired. Jack never wanted to stop learning. He was always reading, researching new technologies, and keeping up with all the advancements in computers. He was an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal. He could speak knowledgeably on technology, current events, and politics. He was a large advocate and supporter of his children and grandchildren furthering their education.

Jack was a man who could never sit idle. When he was not participating in his Veterans activities, he was teaching sailing at the Charles River Boat Club, and coaching and umpiring Little League Baseball. He was always in the stands or on the sidelines for his children and then grandchildren’s baseball, softball, football, soccer, and basketball games. He was always there to support, encourage and defend his family. He had spent 35 years trying to get his son, Jimmy, a new trial in a case where a jail house informant was offered testimony in exchange for favors in a deal by prosecutors. He had always professed his son’s innocence and stood beside him as he has repeated asked the courts to retry the case based prosecutor improprieties.

Jack was a devoted husband to his wife, Carolyn for 64 years. They met on a blind date, when Jack was still in the military. They have made their home in Burlington since 1962 and have been active in their community. He was a loving and supportive father to his 5 children and their spouses; Rosanne Lennartson and the late Roger Lennartson of Burlington, Jimmy of Burlington, John & his wife Mary of Billerica, Matthew & his wife Tes of Fountain Hills, AZ, and Kimberly Pasciuto & her husband Michael of Burlington. He was a caring brother of Connie Jenrette of FL and the late Ralph “Bob” Rodwell. Jack was an extremely proud grandfather of Courtney & Kendra Lennartson, Kevin, Anthony, Cam, & Ethan Rodwell, and Sabrina & Mikey Pasciuto. He was thrilled with the welcoming of the next generation in the Rodwell family with the births of his great grandchildren; Gavin Lennartson and Brooke Farrell.

Funeral from the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Monday, March 6 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Malachy Church, 99 Bedford St., Burlington at 10 a.m. Visiting hours at the funeral home on Sunday from 2-6 p.m. Interment in Pine Haven Cemetery, Burlington. Memorials in Jack’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Family Remembrance by Sabrina

I am Sabrina and I am one of Jack’s granddaughters. We all called my grandfather Papa, and he was a Papa to many, even to some not necessarily in our immediate family. Papa was one of the most brilliant, hard-working, and loving men. He was someone who faced tough times very early on in life and was forced to grow up faster than most. One of the most admirable qualities about my Papa was his love for learning. He was a high school drop-out turned college graduate with two advanced degrees. He had all five kids along with my Nonnie at his master’s graduation. While my Papa’s education and love for learning has always been the highlight when talking to people, I think an even more admirable quality is what he has taught us all. Because while he was an absolutely determined, hard-working, and excellent student, he was an even better teacher, and I would like to explain this using a few different stories.

The first one I’m going to call someone out, and that is my little brother Mikey. I love him very much, but he was the pickiest eater as a child. Whenever we went over to my Nonnie and Papa’s house he loved to snack on Oreos, however Mikey would only eat the middle because he disliked the cookie part and this drove Papa absolutely nuts. I watched my Papa sit down with Mikey every time he ate Oreos and scrape off the white filling with a butter knife. I think all of us sat there and laughed because Papa was so frugal. But as I watched Mikey lap the table at 50 miles per hour from his sugar high while Papa belly laughed and ate the cookie part I began to realize that Papa was teaching Mikey that your dislikes don’t correspond with the dislikes of others, just like your thoughts and opinions aren’t going to be the same as others. Papa taught us empathy, and to understand the importance of other’s feelings and thoughts, and maybe how to get your bang for your buck too. .

When we as a family were going through photos to incorporate in the services we noticed there were a ton of pictures with Papa holding babies in a recliner from all different time periods. My mom actually turned to me and said, whenever there was an upset child, Papa took them and sat in that chair and could get them to calm down. And from small babies to grown adults, Papa never stopped comforting any of his kids or grandkids. He was always there to lend a listening ear, and would hear you out no matter the circumstance. One thing that always stood out to me about Papa was how he has a different relationship with each one of his children and grandchildren. And from that very moment in the chair as a baby, he knew how each one of us was different and how to interact with us. You could tell Papa anything, and he never judged. He was there for you no matter what. He came to every game, graduation, and birthday party, and he supported all of us unconditionally. He taught us the power of fostering relationships, compassion, and the value of comfort. .

Many of you who have had the opportunity to speak with Papa personally have heard about his love for titanium. You could be white or black; you could be 80 years old or 5 years old; you could be a man or woman and this man did not care, as long as you talked with him about titanium. My dad said jokingly yesterday that he is probably lecturing Saint Peter right now on how the hinges of the Pearly Gates should be made from titanium. I think I can say we all have heard it hundreds of times, but what most of you might not realize is how right he was. I remember walking into a material science class and having my professor lecture about the benefits of titanium and powdered metallurgy technology, and that’s when it clicked how smart, and how ahead of his time Papa was. What my professor had lectured as new and revolutionary, my Papa had been saying for years. He was a true engineer who had passion for optimizing technology. Papa taught me how important it was to be passionate about school, because school is something if you put in the hard work it will show results. Papa taught me that it was ok to be different. That I could choose my own path in life, and to never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something. Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls, and Papa taught us all that if you show true passion for something in life whether it be school, being a barber, being a stay at home mom, a mechanic, a great friend, or your family’s provider, it will act as your strong hold against those curve balls.

Perhaps the most important thing my Papa taught us is unbelievable strength when you don’t have any other choice but to be strong. I can think of no greater example of this than my Papa’s relationship with my Uncle Jimmy. My Uncle Jimmy, who unfortunately could not be here today, wrote a few words that I would like to share with everyone:

My name is Jimmy Rodwell, Jack’s first son. For those of you who are not aware, I am incarcerated and have been for the past 35 years. I had begun to compose a letter to my father when my sister Kimberly had explained that Dad’s health was declining. I believe this extra time we had with dad is due to the loving care that my family and Merielle gave him, who is an angel my father loved dearly, as does my family. As hard as it was I tried to prepare for the inevitable. I called home several times a day just to maybe say hello to my father and tell him how much I appreciated all he had done throughout his life to teach and love his family as he did. My father visited me every Friday for over 30 years, supported me financially, mentally and always encouraged me to have faith in god and stay strong. As my appeal process began, my father retained several attorneys, he did all their leg work, and he himself became proficient in the law. He even contemplated going to law school. I would bring out cases on our visits and we would go over them together. My father wrote to countless judges, state reps, and governors. He fought for me like no one could ever imagine. As many here today know first-hand when you ever saw him shopping at Market Basket, Shaw’s and all the like, if you had asked how Jimmy is you would have to prepare to listen to all the latest developments. It breaks my heart dad that I’m not able to be there but please know it is an honor to be your son, and I thank god dearly for having you as my father because I will always love you and miss you beyond belief. God bless you always and god rest your soul. Your number one son. –Jimmy

I think I can speak for everyone when I say, I’m going to miss his presence dearly. That awesome chuckle, his smile, the look and wink he gave me when he was pretending not to hear Nonnie under his headphones, his love for rum cake, his lovely Japanese singing skills, the steady hand when he had too much to drink, and I would give anything to hear that titanium talk one more time. But Papa’s legacy is left in what he taught us. A loving husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle and great-grandfather; he will be truly missed. I came across a quote yesterday that instantly reminded me of Papa, and I would like to leave everyone here today with it. It reads, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that your impact lasts in your absence”
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