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John Williamson

John "Jack" Williamson

Wednesday, March 29th, 1922 - Monday, December 9th, 2019
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Obituary

Williamson, John H. (Jack), 97 of EHT, NJ, passed peacefully from this world while at home, with family at his side. Born in Omaha, NE, March 29, 1922, he was the eldest son of Elmont Snapp and John Henry Williamson. He grew up with a sister, Donna, and a brother, Gordon. John leaves behind his wife of 71 years, Eunice (Willman), children Jack (Sallie), Steve (Elba), Sue Giambatista, and Jim (Dabney); grandchildren John, Jesse, Stephanie, Dylan, Eric, Haley, and Amy; and great grandchildren Erica and Brady. John began his career as a young teen, delivering newspapers for the Omaha World-Herald. Born with an adventuresome spirit, at age 13, he hopped freight trains headed east where he dreamed of becoming a seaman aboard the then celebrated racing vessel, Bluenose. Hungry and homesick after some days on the road, he headed back home where he undertook other interests which opened his eyes to the natural world. Having acquired a pair of binoculars he began a lifelong love of birdwatching. Learning to make the most of a camera, over the decades he accumulated thousands of quality photos and slides of nature and family. Time spent on his Aunt Beulah's farm opened his eyes to another world and he and his cousin, Ruby Lee took turns riding her horse Starlight through acres of natural beauty. During his teen years he built and raced iceboats and sailboats on nearby Carter Lake. John became intrigued by the workings of engines and began to tinker with and ride second hand motorcycles, eventually acquiring an Indian Scout, Excelsior Super X, and a Harley-Davidson RL 45, which he brought back to working order one by one before trading them in for another. Following high school prior to WWII, he trained as a steel marker at Paxton-Vierling Steel Co. in nearby Bellevue. Then, seeking a less dangerous occupation, he attended a local radio-TV electronics school and began a career as Omaha radio station KOWH's control room operator and announcer. He later enrolled in science and electronics courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. At the beginning of WWII, John then enlisted in the US Army Air Signal Corps, training at the Army Air Field in Boca Raton, FL, and began specializing in long range radar air warning systems. He became chief of a radar surveillance site charged with combatting incendiary Fu-Go balloon bomb attacks aimed at the US and Canada. Following the war, he assisted in establishing the Air Force Radar Electronics School at Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi, MI. When his sister sent him a photo of her wedding party, John became smitten with attractive maid of honor, Eunice, or Euny as he always liked to call her, pursuing and eventually winning her hand in marriage in 1948. Returning to Biloxi with his bride, he continued his career in radar. Following the birth of their son, Jack in 1951, John became a field engineer for Bendix Aviation Corp, where his work took the family to England and Germany for several years, where two more children were born. Returning stateside in 1955, aboard the SS United States ocean liner, the growing family moved first to Bedford, then Winthrop, MA where another child was born. John was assigned to the MIT Lincoln Lab to assist in integrating Bendix electronic mappers in the developing SAGE radar air defense system. He then was part of a team with the Air Force Cambridge Research Center Air Navigation Lab, in Fort Dawes, MA which developed VOLSCAN, a return to base air traffic control system. The team developed the stacked UHF Air/Ground radio communications antenna farm essential to the system's success. Along the way, John became a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers. In 1958, the next move for the family took them to South Jersey, where employed by the Federal Airways Navigation Lab, John assisted in establishing NAFEC, forerunner to the current FAA William H. Hughes Technical Center. He was charged with leading a team in modernizing the US air traffic control system within NAFEC's National Aviation System Control Office. In the Systems Test and Evaluation Division in 1976, John traveled to Europe and Africa with the experimental FAA Microwave Landing Systems Team, demonstrating the latest technology to foreign aviation officials. Having lived in Linwood for 50 years, John designed and built the family home on Forest Drive in the evenings and on weekends during 1959 and 1960. He was especially proud of the care and quality of his workmanship. Retiring after a 25 year career with Nafec, John immersed himself in his interests of woodworking, collecting pocketknives, and collaborating on a historical coffee table book, "Malcolm As It Was", with Euny, who grew up in the small town in Nebraska. Although his young family had enjoyed tent camping for over a decade, taking month long summer trips to the midwest and beyond, the two embarked on traveling in retirement towing their Scotty trailer as their book research took them to many areas of the country. Once their children were grown, he led annual extended family camporees to many places of interest. To celebrate his 70th birthday, John and son Jim spent a week hiking the Yosemite John Muir High Sierra Trail with the Sierra Club. Eventually, he and Euny moved to The Village Grand in EHT, enjoying their new community and visits from their extended family. For several years, he organized and became leader of their photography club. Throughout his life, John was a naturalist and developed a keen interest in the environment during the 1960's. He was a longtime chair of the Atlantic Audubon Society and involved in community activities on the first Earth Day. John was an active member of the Sierra Club and Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, where he coordinated and participated in weekly waterbird surveys for decades, receiving Congressional recognition for his service. He taught adjunct courses in Seashore Ornithology for the NJ Marine Science Consortium. He was a founding member and one time president of the Atlantic County Citizen's Council on the Environment (ACCCE), which was instrumental in preventing the building of a proposed off shore floating Atlantic Nuclear Power Plant in 1978 as well as playing a key role in supporting the passing of the 1970 NJ Wetlands Act, forever preserving the fragile ecosystems along the Jersey coastline. John chaired Linwood's first Environmental Commission and was a member of the city's Shady Tree Committee. Over the years, he wrote many environmental editorials to the Press of Atlantic City as well as letters to politicians in office regarding environmental policy. A devoted family man, he taught his children about nature and appreciation for the environment, and called on each to take a stand and make a mark for themselves in the world. He was a Boy Scout leader of Pack 39 in Linwood and attended Central United Methodist Church for over 60 years. Once retired, he served as a long term secretary and service officer for the local chapter of NARFE, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, compiling a useful packet for newly widowed spouses of federal employees. Up to his passing, he continued to subscribe to and enjoy environmental publications. John often credited Euny, her winning smile, and good cooking as the reason for his longevity. They made a great team for over 71 years. In so many ways and to so many people, John will be missed for who he was and for what he has contributed to so many during his lifetime. In lieu of flowers, donations in John's memory may be made to Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Angelic Hospice, whose collective kindness and professionalism has been so very appreciated by our family.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 | 9:30am - 11:00am
    When
    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 9:30am - 11:00am
    Location
    Adams-Perfect Funeral Home
    Address
    1650 New Road
    NORTHFIELD, NJ 08225
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 | 11:00am
    When
    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 11:00am
    Location
    Adams-Perfect Funeral Home
    Address
    1650 New Road
    NORTHFIELD, NJ 08225
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 | 12:30pm
    When
    Saturday, December 14th, 2019 12:30pm
    Location
    Friends Central Cemetery
    Address
    Shore Road
    LINWOOD, NJ 08221
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Condolences

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Private Condolence
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Marge Brubaker

Posted at 12:59pm
Williamson Family... I was so saddened to hear the news of your Dad’s passing. I have very fond memories of him especially this time of year when he would always decorate the big tree in your front yard. I remember as a small child being amazed at how he did that! I hope my Dad and your Dad are catching up after all those years building the houses next to each other and being neighbors on Forest Drive. God Bless your Mom and all of you at this very difficult time. Margie (Risley) Brubaker
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