John Francis "Jack" Rogan was born on September 11, 1932, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He passed away Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, at his residence surrounded by his loving family. He was the youngest child of Clarence and Margaret (Pieh) Rogan. His family moved to the north side of Racine in 1936. A second move in 1945, to Carlisle Avenue, had his family joining Sacred Heart Parish. Jack would spend the next seven decades as a member of the Sacred Heart Parish Community.
Jack attended Saint Catherine’s High School from 1946 to 1950. There he established many lifelong friendships including one with Eileen Anne Keyes. Several teachers at Saint Catherine’s thought that Eileen should find a better group of friends, but Jack and Eileen maintained a friendship throughout their high school years and after.
After high school, Jack had an uneventful military career as an MP. Instead of fighting in Korea, Jack fought “The Battles of Buckaroe Beach” at Fort Monroe in Virginia. The biggest battles were who was going to pay for dinner on Friday night and how much he could win playing cards with his buddies. While on leave from the military, in Washington, D.C., in 1954, Jack and Eileen realized that their friendship was much more significant. During that trip, at The Willard Hotel, Jack proposed to Eileen. They were married on September 3, 1955, at St. John’s Catholic Church in South Milwaukee.
The first few years of marriage were a lot of work for Jack and Eileen. In the mornings, Jack attended classes at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and in the afternoons he worked at Kinney’s Shoes under the management of his lifelong friend, Kenny Wolf. Tales of these days are memorialized in the book, The Competitor, a nostalgic story laced with humor of life in an old fashioned full service shoe store. During that time his family was growing and he found he could make better money selling shoes on commission than he could being an entry level accountant, his chosen area of study. After graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in accounting, Jack spent the late 1950s opening stores for Kinney’s Shoes in Wisconsin, Arizona and California. In 1959, upon being told that he would be moved to the corporate headquarters of Kinney’s Shoes, he decided to pack up his wife and four kids and move home to Racine.
Back in Racine, Jack spent the next 10 years working for Robert’s Shoes and expanding his family. In December of 1970, with a new house, a wife and 10 kids, Jack quit his job at Robert’s Shoes. As his severance, Jack took over their location on Pine Street in Burlington in August of 1971. Jack, in true salesman form, spent the next decades finding any way to buy and sell shoes to provide for his family which now consisted of a wife and 11 kids. Additional stores were added in Racine and surrounding areas. Shoes were sold out of parking lots and under tents. Aisles were packed with shoes, and shipments were often delivered to Jack and Eileen’s home. His family was trained on the front lines of the retail shoe business. Under his guidance, Rogan’s Shoes grew into a chain of 32 stores in 4 states.
Work took up most of Jack’s time, but he did find some time for interests outside of work. He was always excited to entertain friends, employees and neighbors with parties, dinners and golf outings. He was legendary for being the center of long, involved stories that always ended with tons of laughter. Jack loved time by the television, enjoying his beloved Boston Celtics and New York Yankees. He never understood Eileen’s love of the hapless Chicago Cubs. He greatly enjoyed collecting sports autographs and artwork centered on Don Quixote. He and Eileen were able to get away on trips to Las Vegas, Alaska, Aruba, Mexico, Italy, Tahiti and casinos everywhere. Jack would relax, spend time in the sun, read and win money. Jack and Eileen were a spectacular couple on the dance floor.
When they moved to a new home on 4 ½ Mile Road, Jack’s horticultural thumb blossomed. Jack spent most afternoons during the spring, summer and fall in his yard, planting and tending to his enormous flower garden, maintaining his lawn and burning anything he could fit in his burn pit.
The three pillars of Jack Rogan’s life were Faith, Family and Work. Jack never missed Mass whether at home or on the road. He would often go by himself or with a couple of kids to early Mass where he was a lector for the Sacred Heart Parish Community for years. Jack supported his parish and Saint Catherine’s High School throughout his life. As his work days became less demanding, Jack would go to Mass daily at Sacred Heart. To the surprise of his family, he was also the altar boy at those daily Masses.
Jack’s complete dedication to his family was legendary. Family events and the activity of 11 children and 17 grandchildren would have him retreat to the quiet of the kitchen washing dishes. He was extremely proud of all the lessons he quietly (and not so quietly) was able to impart upon his children.
The last few years of Jack’s life were a slow progression of old age that was compounded by his development of cortical basal ganglionic degeneration, which took away his ability to control his muscles. He responded to his disease with dignity and grace, and spent his last days at home with Eileen and his constant visitors. He never complained. He passed away, at home, while he slept peacefully.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Eileen; his children, Tom (Tammy), Bob (Janice), Pat (Chris), Eileen (Al), Mary (Neal), Joe (David), Dave (Carol), Mark (LeAnn), Jim (Kathy), Christine (Brian) and Tony (Cayle); his grandchildren, Jessica (Sherman), Jeremiah, Eric, Nicole (Geoff), Dawn (Jonathan), Sean, John (Kaya), Sara (Mike), Ellie, Mike, McKenna, Adam, Jonah, Grace, Aidan and Bella; great-grandchildren, Dustin, Lucy and Gage; and his sister, Peg. He was preceded in death by his father, Clarence; his mother, Margaret; his brother, Bill; his grandson, Matt; and his great-grandson, Damian. All will miss him dearly.
His parish family and his employees will always remember his humor, stories and his powerful guiding presence.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, November 2, 2013, at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2201 Northwestern Ave., with Rev. Ricardo Martin officiating. Entombment with Full Military Honors will follow at Holy Cross Garden Mausoleum, Hwy 32. Relatives and friends may meet with the family from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, November 1, at the Sacred Heart Catholic School Gymnasium, and on Saturday, November 2, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass at 11 a.m.
Jack was a man of prayer. His rosary was always with him. Prayers for his wife and family would be the greatest gift you could give. Memorials are asked to be sent to Saint Catherine’s High School or Sacred Heart Parish, both of Racine, in Jack’s name.
MARESH-MEREDITH & ACKLAM FUNERAL HOME
803 Main St., Racine (262) 634-7888