Monday, October 23, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Please join John's family for food and drinks
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
11:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Please join John's family after the service in the Life Story Center at the funeral home for a Reception to continue the celebration of his life.
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.
University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
5841 S Maryland Ave, MC 1140, H212
Chicago, IL 60637
In Lieu of Flowers, please.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Vibrant, hardworking, and determined, John Jakimiak Sr. was an extraordinary man to know and love. Incredibly wise and business savvy, John was known for his immeasurable generosity as he was more than willing to share everything he knew with anyone who wanted to listen, and as a father he taught his boys about what really matters in life through the way he lived his own life each day. In addition to his two boys John was like a father to his Nephews, Brian and Nicky, teaching them valuable skills and imparting them with a work ethic that would help them thrive. He was also known as the “Fun Uncle”, being the sole adult playing with his nieces and nephews at family functions. Blessed to share his life with his true love, he was deeply devoted to the family he treasured more than life itself. Although life will never be the same without John here, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
It seems only fitting that John’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as he was. It was the 1960s when we elected John F. Kennedy as President, and by the end of the decade we had put the first man on the moon. Amidst this exciting time was a period of great joy in the lives of Sylvester and Patricia (Patterson) Jakimiak as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named John Stewart on August 26, 1961, in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was the youngest of four children and was joined in his family by his three sisters, Barbara, Sharon, and Caroline. John’s early years were spent in Royal Oak, but when he was 10 his family was devastated with the death of his father. From there, he moved around a lot between family members including his mom and sisters, effectively orphaned, attending various schools including Walled Lake High School until the 10th grade. At that time John started driving a truck with his brother-in-law, Richard, who was an important figure in his life and taught him a lot about the trucking business and many other valuable skills that would help John succeed and provide an incredible life for his family. John spent some time doing long-haul, over the road driving, and in 1983 he went to work for Howe-Martz glass company.
This proved to be quite a fateful job change for John because it was there that he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Denise, and she was dating a co-worker at the glass company when they met while John was dating that same co-workers’ sister. But, once John saw a picture of Denise, he just knew he had to meet her in person. When the opportunity arose to attend a social occasion at Denise’s house John did not hesitate and the rest, as they say, is history. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, John proposed to his sweetheart in April of 1986; since she was smitten with him right from the start, the answer was a resounding YES!!!!!! Deeply in love, John and Denise were married on October 10, 1986, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Harper Woods, Michigan exactly three years after their first date. Beginning their family with the welcoming of John Stewart Jr. in 1989, in 1991 they took in John Sr.’s nephew Brian, and in 1992 they welcomed their second son Justin Lucas, officially becoming a “4-pack”.
John started his career driving truck for a company, but he bought his first truck in the spring of 1984. John and Denise went over the road trucking for a few years right after Denise graduated high school. Soon after they started trucking, they met “Diesel Pete” Fitzsimmons, the man they soon called “Dad” and who would be John’s Best Man at their wedding. He taught John everything he knew about working on trucks and became a prominent father figure in his life.
They bought a couple more trucks and had a small fleet when the couple decided to start their family so Denise could be a stay-at-home mother. Since he always wanted to get into sales, John got his first sales job with Damiron Truck Center at a used truck lot in Battle Creek. He worked there for a short time and then worked for Rockford Kenworth in Rockford, Illinois. John moved back to Michigan and worked for Kalamazoo Truck Sales for a time and then landed his job at Freightliner of Grand Rapids in 1995. He loved that job, and not long after starting in sales he became used truck sales manager. John had acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of used trucks, and could sell water to a drowning man; this made him a formidable presence in the industry. From 2003 through 2005, he left Freightliner so he and Denise could start their company, JD Sales. He went back to work for Freightliner in 2005 and then in 2010 started JD Sales back up as a side business with his wife and Freightliner fully supported his outside pursuits. John worked tirelessly and put a ton of energy into both companies. Over the years, he was a mentor to many people in the trucking industry, and he was always willing to teach other people who wanted to learn. He developed many close relationships with people he did business with and had several dear friends.
In 2010, John and Denise took in a Foreign exchange student from Switzerland. Her name was Martina and she was a beautiful and sweet young girl. They quickly developed a strong bond with her, calling her their adopted daughter and continuing their relationship to this day.
Although his work was fulfilling to John, he also had a vibrant home life. “Go, go, go,” was his favorite phrase, and that is exactly what he did. John loved his power toys including their jet skis and boats as he loved playing on the lake. They owned a cottage on Pine Lake and he loved having fun with his kids, family, and friends there. John and his family also had fun snowmobiling up North when their boys were little as this was one of their favorite winter activities. He had a passion for fast cars and John bought several cars over the years. Being mechanically inclined, he worked on a lot of his cars and his boys worked right alongside him. This instilled the value of hard work in their boys, and John was an amazing example. He simply loved anything with an engine in it, and his most recent buy was a Dodge Hellcat. John’s favorite sport was drag racing and his hobby was RVing so a lot of their vacations involved going to NHRA drag races. He used to drag and street race as a hobby. For years John and Denise owned his and hers GTOs, and they raced together once or twice. They loved traveling in their RV and taking leisurely rides on their pontoon; they were out there nearly every warm summer night. John also grew much closer with his three sisters during this period, spending time with them at every opportunity.
All who knew John would agree that he was the heartbeat of wherever he went. He was passionate about his family and generous beyond measure when it came to both his family and his friends. John was willing to help people he didn’t know, and he never expected anything in return. He was a gifted and enthusiastic orator with a passion for storytelling and always held a strong presence. Deeply loved, John will be forever missed.