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John J. ‘Jack’ Kerins dies at 87

By Jeffrey Munshaur

The outdoor community lost a good friend and ardent supporter on May 12, 2009. John J. “Jack” Kerins passed at Cobblestone Crossing Health Campus in Terre Haute, Ind. Jack was born Aug. 30, 1921, and spent his life in Terre Haute. He is survived by his son John Michael; his two daughters, Kathy Neal and Connie Whiteman; and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his lovely wife, Elynore “Pet” Petyo Kerins in 2003.

jackkerins-obit-mug-bwJack was an old-time hero on several fronts. He had three passions: his family, his Marine Corps and his writing, in that order. As a youngster he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and fought the South Pacific campaigns. He battled on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam and, finally, Iwo Jima. His experiences led him in later life to coin his first book, “The Last Banzai.” It was a refreshing tome written from the perspective of a private in hellish battles.

His return to the States found him in college and then in love. Jack married Pet and the two began, what he described, as a wonderful life. As his family grew he worked in the sporting goods industry, eventually becoming the president of McMillan Sporting Goods. Jack once confided that he was instrumental in introducing the face mask to football and ruining the game. His love of family and sports led them on numerous outdoor adventures, the details of which he would recount for hours. He wrote his second book about Pet’s hobby, collecting stickpins. Although not outdoor-oriented, it was an interesting and factual “how-to”.

Jack’s work in sporting goods and his love of hunting and fishing provided the backdrop for the “TV Sportsman’s Show.” He co-hosted the series with Jack Ennis for an unbelievable 21 years. Those years found him writing and photographing the outdoor world with zeal. Memberships in OWAA, the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and other writers organizations joined with his numerous military associations. Jack’s loyalty and commitment to all was exemplary. He and Pet rejoiced at all the banquets and conferences they attended together. It was a part of their life and they shared marvelous memories.

In later life Jack was always available to help young Marines, young writers and his organizations. He and Pet would entertain for hours and guide couples new to the area to the nice restaurants and the highlights in town. The entire population seemed to know and respect Jack and he would quickly give his stamp of approval to deserving folks. Finding a place to hunt, fish, or trap was not difficult once he took up your cause. And if you desired to be a writer, his wise red pen always seemed to hold more ink than possible. Somehow in the mix, he was able to compile his final book, “Hooks, Bullets, and Dying Embers.”

Now Jack is once again in hand with Pet and sitting at the table they deserve. For those who knew Jack, a good friend and mentor has passed. For those who didn’t, an opportunity is sadly lost.

Fare winds and following seas, my friend.

Jeffrey Munshaur, of New Albany, Ind., is a professional dog trainer, columnist and freelance outdoors writer. dogworks@cyberstreet.com

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