John Malcolm (Jack) Searles, 97, of Davenport, Iowa died peacefully in his sleep on April 9, 2013.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Stephen and Edna Searles of Long Island, N.Y., and his brothers, Steve of Boston and Bob of Minneapolis.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Barbara; his son, John, Jr. and wife Anne; daughter Susan; daughter Sally and her husband Budge; and grandchildren Nick, Chris, Tiana and her husband, Nathan, Andrew, Abby, Jessie, and Kippy.
Jack was a devoted husband, a generous father, and a caring grandfather.
Jack was born in 1915 in Englewood, N.J., where he was raised and educated. He spent summers vacationing in Hampton Bays, Long Island where, as a young boy with his brothers Steve and Bob, he learned to sail, fish, swim, and golf, all sports which remained lifelong interests.
Jack graduated from Princeton University in 1938. During his undergraduate days, he studied a little and played a lot: shooting billiards, dealing cards, and dancing to the big bands. He lettered in rugby and was a member of the revered Tiger Inn.
Shortly after graduating before World War II he joined the U.S. Navy as a midshipman. After swabbing decks and checking munitions, he rose in a distinguished, six-year career in motor torpedo boats in the Pacific. When the war ended, he landed on Okinawa, Japan as a commander in charge of 500 men.
He did not lose a single man who served under him during the war. For his bravery, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Navy’s highest honor. Today his relatives and friends refer to his home office in Iowa, with its 1940s memorabilia, as the “Commander’s War Room.” His memoir Tales of Tulagi, published in 1992, tells of his days in the Navy, sinking Japanese subs and destroyers from the deck of a 55-foot plywood PT boat. His fellow officers and men had remained lifelong and loyal friends.
When he married Barbara Adams in 1946, he moved to the Midwest. Jack worked in sales for Pillsbury, Dewy Portland and Martin Marietta Cement. In the evenings he studied for his M.B.A. and served in the Naval Reserves.
Recreationally, he enjoyed the outdoors, his dogs, and especially his garden, where he raised prize roses and loved bird watching. During the summer, he vacationed at Lake Windigo in northern Wisconsin, sailing, fishing, and canoeing. During the winter, he homeschooled his children in Florida and sailed with his brother Bob on their boat “The Jaunty Jess.”
More than anything, he remained dedicated to his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Because Mr. Searles was a family-oriented, private person, he requested a memorial service at the family grave site in Odebolt, Iowa, near his wife’s farm. The family gives thanks to Mr. Searles’ caregivers, especially Betty Pinter who helped for almost 20 years.
Instead of flowers, the family asks that memorials be mailed in Mr. Searles’ name to the Hampton Bays Library (52 Penquogue, Hampton Bays, New York 11946) or to the Quad City Humane Society (2802 W. Central Park, Davenport, Iowa 52803).
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