John H (Jack) Kalivoda

November 19, 1927 ~ February 1, 2021 (age 93)


John Hoppe Kalivoda was born on November 19, 1927 to Joseph John and Olive Marie (nee Hoppe) Kalivoda in Oak Park, Illinois.  Four years later his only sibling, Marianne, was born.  His dad and all four grandparents were born in Bohemia.  He grew up on Fair Oaks Ave in the house his parents built, graduating from Oak Park High in 1945.  He attended University of Illinois-Urbana and graduated in 3 years with a degree in Chemical Engineering.  He never dated in high school and when he went home for the first Thanksgiving told his folks that, in chemistry lab, he had met the girl he was going to marry. They walked down the aisle together at graduation, but were not able to marry until 1950 because he wanted to finish his Master’s from MIT and establish himself in his career.  He always joked that the most useful thing he learned at MIT was sailing on the Charles River.  He and Isabell Helen Holmgren were married July 8, 1950 at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois.  He worked his entire professional career for Shell Oil Company, starting at Wood River Refinery (near St Louis) and moving to New York City, The Hague (Netherlands) and finishing his 35-year career at Martinez Refinery in 1985.

Although he briefly bowled and played softball as a young man, golf was his big love.  He played as often as he could (2 or 3 times per week after retirement) until 88 years old, finally stopping when he could no longer maintain his balance. He loved music and was a member of the Marching Band (clarinet) and Men’s Glee Club at U of I.  Whenever he moved to a new town, one of the first things he did after joining a church, was to join the church choir.  He also enjoyed his choir at Montecito.  He attended many organ and symphonic concerts in each of his residences.  The last concert he attended was led by his favorite conductor, Herbert Blomstedt – Beethoven’s 6th - at Davies Hall in January 2019.  The last 3 days of his life, his son Jack played some of his dad’s favorite vinyl records like Al Jolson, Louie Armstrong, musicals and classical symphonies.

Being in the outdoors was a major joy in his life, whether it was sailing with his sister at Alpine (Wisconsin) or the Caribbean or camping with the family in the Sierras or on the Mendocino coast.

He was a 50-year member of the Masons, currently belonging to Alcalanes Fellowship Lodge.  A favorite of his was their annual Crab Feed.

He found another love, that of traveling, while living in Holland for 2 ½ years.  He would take the family on weekend trips all over Holland and throughout Europe.  He had many plans for trips, limited only by the fact that Isabell was travelling back and forth to Chicago to look after her aunt.  Sadly, she was knocked down and broke her hip at O’Hare during one of those visits.  His beloved Izzy never recovered totally from that fall and in 1988 she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  At that point, Jack’s focus shifted to caring for her and trying to find appropriate therapies in hopes of slowing the disease.  His 45-year love affair ended with her death on December 2, 1990.

He married Phyllis Switzer Herrold the following year on December 7th, as they were fond of saying “the 50-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor.”  They enjoyed many trips and concerts. They traveled to Svalbard, Antarctica, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, the Galapagos, the Caribbean, Russia, Turkey among several other places. A trip would barely be over, and he was planning the next.  In fact, despite COVID he was planning to go to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho with his son, Jack, on July 10, 2020 but unfortunately suffered a stroke 3 days before the trip.

He was quite a fighter and after his stroke had PT sessions 5 days per week in the hope of returning to his former active life.  He improved, but of course not at the speed he wanted.  His son, Jack, was ever-present with him, helping and encouraging him at the PT sessions.  He was still sharp and enjoyed the daily visits with Jack. They watched old movies and Warrior games until he fell asleep. After breathing became difficult for him earlier this year, he elected to go on hospice January 27 and then died peacefully in the early morning hours of February 1.

Jack is survived by daughter Jeanne (Dale) Meyers of Culver City, his son John of Concord, grandchildren Natalie (Mark) Sullivan of Hawthorne, John Meyers of Tehachapi and Joseph Kalivoda of Reno, grandchildren Jacob and Catherine, sister Marianne (Beach) Hall of Rogers City, Michigan and many nieces and nephews.


In lieu of flowers please consider a favorite charity, Focus on the Family.


An online Memorial Service will be held February 27, 2021 at 10 am PST.  Contact Ouimet Bros or the family for logon instructions.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John H (Jack) Kalivoda, please visit our floral store.



Oakmont Memorial Park
2099 Reilez Valley Road
Lafayette, CA 94549

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