John “Jack” Charles Conant, 76, of Orcas Island, WA, passed away Sept. 28, 2014 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham, Wash., after collapsing unexpectedly near his home. Jack was well known in the Orcas Island community for his engaging and forthright personality. He was a member of the American Legion, an active participant in Kiwanis and the Spring Point Homeowner’s Association. A U.S. Navy veteran and career pilot with American Airlines, Jack was much beloved by his family and friends, and leaves a remarkable legacy of goodwill and good humor.
Jack was born Jan. 17, 1938, in Jacksonville, IL, the eldest son of Doris and John Conant. He is survived by his wife, Laura, and his faithful dog, Rex. He is also survived by three of his siblings, Robert (Kitty) Conant of Valencia, Calif.; Nancy Robarge of Port Hueneme, Calif.; and James (Michelle) Conant of Kirkland, Wash., and his three children, Jan (Marty) Njaa of Maple Valley, Wash.; Jeanne (Dito) Diez of Temecula, Calif.; and John (Chris) Conant of Satellite Beach, Fla. Jack was blessed with five grandchildren, Lindsey (Tyler) Schneckloth, Chloe, Halle, Kristina and Josh, and one great-grandson, Parker John. He was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Barbara Vogt.
Jack graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1956 and from the University of Illinois in 1961 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy, serving from 1961 to 1966 as a command pilot with Patrol Squadron VP-6 on the P3 Lockheed Electra.
Jack married Laura Melhorn, an American Airlines stewardess, on March 10, 1979, and they moved to Orcas in 1988. Jack retired from American Airlines as a 767 International Captain in 1998. Shortly before retirement, he launched “Lockpickers” on Orcas, serving the San Juan Islands.
A celebration of life will be held after the first of the year, a specific date to be announced later. Memorials may be directed to the Orcas Island chapter of Kiwanis, or the Orcas Animal Protection Society.