CORVALLIS – John Albert Spek, of Corvallis, passed away at home on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. He had been battling cancer for several years.
John was born in Roundup, Montana, on Nov. 29, 1938, to John and Clara Mae (Foster) Spek.
He grew up in Melstone, Montana. He played basketball in high school, sometimes with just a team of five. He graduated in 1956 and joined the Air Force at the age of 17. He was stationed at March Air Force Base, California, in 1959 when he got Christmas leave and married Beverly Langsather on Dec. 30, in Roundup.
In 1964 while stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, he was one of 50 enlisted men (actually the youngest) selected for a special program at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He was in a training program for several months before President Lynden Johnson revealed the new supersonic SR-71 Blackbird. John was very proud to be a member of the elite group until he went to Vietnam, in which he flew 129 non-combat missions and was rewarded the Bronze Star, for a year but then returned to the program at Beale Air Force Base, California. He treasured the many friendships that have remained through the years. The semi-annual Blackbird reunions were something he looked forward to.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1977, after 21 years of service, he was offered a job with an x-ray company, a natural transition in the field of electronics. CGR sold to GE, which led to another group of long lasting friendships in Reno, Nevada.
Their son, Jason, began playing hockey at an early age and John could be seen at the ice rink or on the road with a car load of hockey players. More weekends were spent traveling than at home and even included annual bus trips to Canada for tournaments.
There were also regular trips to Montana to visit family and the decision was made in 2000 to retire and return to their home state for good. He spend many hours with the construction crew during the building of the new house in Corvallis and then he had the chore of landscaping it all. Another set of friendships developed as the subdivision grew.
Hunting trips with cousins in the Melstone area became an annual ritual. A special friend from California made the annual trek with John and was the official elk caller. John knew that the 2017 hunt would be his last and was so happy to achieve getting a bull elk just several days into the hunting season.
John also enjoyed attending NASCAR races at several tracks around the U.S., but Phoenix was the most special. Season tickets were for the same seats for many years, and of course, more friendships developed with other race fans. Bev, Jason and Amy even went along a few times.
Trips to Lake Tahoe were always enjoyed with friends. He even got in a few fishing days.
John was proceeded in death by his parents, John and Clara Mae Spek, as well as his in-laws, Ted and Sally Benes.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly of Corvallis; his son Jason and daughter in law Amy; and his sister Darlene, all of Hamilton. Also surviving is his aunt Angus Abbott of Grass Range, Montana and numerous cousins and a wealth of wonderful friends.
At John’s request, services will be postponed until spring because he didn’t want his family and friends to attend services in the cold. His service with full military honors will be at the Western Montana Veterans Cemetery, 1911 Tower Street, Missoula, on Friday, April 20, 2018, at 11 a.m., with a celebration of life to be held at Heritage Hall, at 30 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula following the services.
The family suggest donations to Wounded Warriors Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256, or Melstone High School Scholarship Fund, Melstone, Montana or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Thank you to the Marcus Daly Hospice for their wonderful care. Also thank you to Dr. Gabe Charbonneau and staff at Lifespan Family Medicine in Stevensville; Dr. John Linford and staff at the Montana Cancer Center in Missoula; and the chemo clinic at Marcus Daly Hospital in Hamilton. John felt that he’d always received the best possible care. God bless you all. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.