At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Munson Healthcare Foundation; Munson Hospice
1150 Medical Campus Dr.
Traverse City, MI 49684
Please designate Munson Hospice House
Life Story / Obituary
John Richard Ahart, or Jack, as he was known to family and friends, set sail for un-charted waters on April 13th, 2014. Jack was born on December 4th, 1935 in Waukegan, Illinois to John and Olive Ahart. Jack was in the Navy Reserve's from 1954 - 1962 as an Aviation Ordananceman. Jack initially attended Northwestern Michigan College, and along with 2 friends from Waukegan High School were the first out of state students to attend NMC. Jack went on to attend Michigan State University where he met his wife to be Jean McLean whom he would later marry and settle in the Traverse City area. They would often attend the annual UM vs. MSU football game with friends. We are reminded of one story, where hotel room door knobs were tied shut to the door across the hall with bed-sheets, in an attempt to prevent a certain someone from going to the game. Jack worked for a local mortician picking up bodies and then helping the mortician embalm and prepare the deceased for burial, and then began a career in sales with local TV after settling in Traverse City. Chris was the first son to join the crew. Jack then began working for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan and moved the family to a lovely home on the Old Mission Peninsula shoreline which was often the scene of beautiful sunset's, memorable Christmas Eve parties with Ray and Gwen Sutton and children, and tempestuous late summer storms that often found Jack chasing portions of the dock, and/or the family boat. Nick was the second son to join the crew, and was later joined by Pat, 3 boys who often put Jack to the test, maybe more so than sailing. Jack was also a regular crew member on Ray Sutton's boat Children, whether for leisurely sails around the bay, or racing on the local circuit. Jack was arguably one of the few sailors to have ran into the North Manitou Lighthouse, and sailed away to talk, and laugh about it, over beers in Leland following the annual Traverse City to Leland race. Jack was often joined by his son Chris on these adventures, who also was present for the crib ramming, and other shenanigans. Jack also raced the Chicago to Mackinaw race where his small stature often required trips up the mast to his great displeasure. Jack and Jean were also members of the Traverse City Golf and Country Club, where Jack often played a role on the fireworks lighting and running like hell crew
that would light the Country Clubs annual July firework show. One memorable event had a mortar exploding at ground level as it left the tube. It is not known if this event initiated the run like hell part, but one can certainly assume. Annual trips to the family cabin on Lake Matinenda, north of Blind River, Ontario were also common. Here, prolific fishing, and the occasional bent prop from striking a submerged tree were enjoyed by many. It is sure that the bent prop, and many hours trolling back to the cabin, and subsequent "spanking" by Jean, taught Jack to always carry a spare prop in the future. Friends Jerry and Barb Overholt were frequent guests, and on one occasion, spent time chasing an errant bear, or drinking cold beers and playing cards into the wee hours, which was more often the case. Later in life Jack and Jean set out on separate courses and Jack eventually married Chari VanderVeen-Gross. Chari brought with her 2 new crew members, Tonya and Cristian. They too, enjoyed many a sunsets at the family cabin. Jack was also a long-term "member" of the crew that would gather daily at Rounds Circle Inn, discussing all things, while enjoying a long breakfast at the expense of his co-workers having to pick up the slack. Or maybe, they would argue, enjoying a longer respite not having one of the "bosses" in the office. Jack retired from his career at BCBSM, and soon after, he and his wife Chari, also sailed off on separate courses. Jack was also a long-term member of the Elks club. Jack continued to live in the Traverse City area his entire life until sailing off into the sunset. He was proceeded in death by his parents, and brother William. He is survived by Jean and Chari, as well as his children Chris (wife Sheryl, sons Joshua and James), Nick (wife Lisa, and they're son Alex) and Pat (son Zane). While Jack had no special wishes for his ashes, his son Chris had advised him that he would go sailing once more, to enjoy a warm summer breeze, and cold beer. Though, not anywhere near the infamous "crib". In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Munson Hospice House and the Humane Society. Please visit Jack's webpage at www.lifestorynet.com to sign the guest book and share a message with his family. An informal gathering for family and friends will be held 10am to 12 noon, Thursday, April 17, 2014 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City.