Jack Renner, formerly of Taylorville, Illinois, died May 27, 2019, in Naples, Florida. He was 91. His passing marked the end of a long and courageous battle with cancer. Courage and strength were the hallmarks of this man, beloved patriarch of the Renner clan.
Jack was born in Belleville, Illinois, to Arthur and Cornelia Renner on September 17, 1927. Upon graduation from Belleville High School, Jack left to attend the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. While there, he joined Theta Xi fraternity. He graduated in 1949, with a degree in Chemical Engineering and accepted a job with Sinclair Oil in its Chicago area location. He returned to Belleville to wed Mary Schlosser, daughter of Edwin and Kathryn Schlosser. Upon their marriage, Jack and Mary moved to Calumet City, Illinois, where they built their home and began their family. Four children were born of that marriage: Patricia, Cynthia, Steven and James. Sadly, Mary died suddenly at the age of 33, on October 9, 1962. She left behind a bereft husband and four young children, ranging in age from 10 years to 10 months. Subsequently, Jack met and married Patricia Jean Kric (daughter of Frank and Ruth Kric) of Wheaton, Illinois. Jack adopted her three young sons: Kenneth, Richard and Raymond. Thus, seven children (ranging in age from 11 years to 18 months) and two adults filled the small home in Calumet City.
During this time, Jack had continued to work for Sinclair Oil at its plant and laboratory in Harvey, Illinois. He developed a product and a process for improving asphalt materials and was awarded several patents. His promotion to the marketing of these applications required Jack to travel more extensively. Jack and Pat moved their family to a more central location in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they welcomed home their eighth child, Robert.
After 5-6 years in West Lafayette, the family relocated to Taylorville, Illinois, where Jack had been offered to join a colleague in a business venture. The venture involved the production of asphalt emulsions and their subsequent use. This venture proved quite successful, with Jack eventually becoming Vice-president. Jack also became a member of the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association, through which he met lifelong colleagues and friends.
Jack brought his son, Jim, into the business upon Jim's graduation from Taylorville High School. Under Jim's capable stewardship, the business continued to flourish. Jack and Pat began to spend winters in Naples, Florida. They eventually moved to Naples year round. Their first home in Naples was on a canal leading to the Gulf. As hurricanes became ever more frequent and violent, Jack and Pat moved inland, building their own home while in their seventies, a gutsy but not unusual undertaking for the couple. There they spent their final years. Pat died on May 17, 2016, after a lengthy illness. They had been married for 53 years.
In addition to his two wives, Jack was predeceased by his son, Rick. He is survived by seven children: Patti (Fred ) Crow, Ken (Leslee) Renner, Cindy (Mark) Wagner, Ray (Brenda) Renner , Steve (Dejan Radusinovic ) Renner, Jim (Alicia) Renner and Rob (Julio Moreno) Renner; eleven grandchildren: Jason (Nicole) Griffin, Nick Crow, Hannah Crow, Ashley (Scott Courtney) Renner, Vanessa Renner, Alexander Renner, Harrison Renner, Sarah Wagner, Katie Wagner MD, Jaclyn Renner and Jennifer Renner; one great- grandchild, Connor Griffin. He is also survived by dear friends, Axel and Andrea Wichterich.
Jack loved the outdoors and outdoor sports. He was especially accomplished in tennis. He garnered many trophies in college and beyond. He played vigorously until he was nearly 80 when bad knees and a neck injury sidelined him. He took up golf instead. Jack loved to fish, to hunt and to explore little known trails, creek beds and rock formations. He also loved to travel. One of his favorite cities was New Orleans. A favorite family destination was Woman Lake, near Longville, Minnesota. The family rented cabins there and fished the waters of that lake and others nearby. Everyone enjoyed swimming, boating, exploring the woods and catching glimpses of the Aurora Borealis. On some days, jaunts were made to nearby locations such as Lake Itasca (source of the mighty Mississippi); and of course to Bemidji, to visit Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Jack was a father ahead of his time. While he hunted in all kinds of weather, his kids hiked along with him. He patiently taught them to fish, to swim, to ride bikes, to row boats, to paddle canoes and above all, to respect nature. He helped his children with their homework, particularly math and chemistry. He offered guidance with other tasks, from learning to make simple phone calls, to applying to college and interviewing for jobs. Jack would sometimes take several children with him on business trips to other cities. For those chosen, the experience was akin to a visit to Disneyland, always met with wide-eyed wonder.
Jack had a keen sense of humor. He was a charmer and bit of a prankster. These qualities endeared him to friends and family alike. It was such fun to pull a fast one on him or tell a story that brought out his great laugh. He had a persona larger than life and left a lasting legacy.
Jack taught his family to embrace life, to cherish learning, to choose adventure, to expect the very best of oneself, to push through fear and face life head-on, to stay grounded, to survive bad times and then ultimately seek to thrive, to see humor in all things, to be large of heart, to make good decisions and stick with them. He will be greatly missed.
His final wishes were to be cremated and his ashes to be distributed at sea. Arrangements for Jack's memorial service and the lawful disbursal of his ashes, are pending. For those desiring to make donations, contributions to The National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society or Avow Hospice (Naples, Fl.) would best honor Jack's memory.
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National Wildlife Federation
P.O. Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583
National Audubon Society