We are greatly saddened with the passing of one of our elder handball statesmen. Jack, 91, died March 10, 2012, at Porter Hospice at Johnson Center. Survived by daughter Leslie, and her hisband, Dan Mielke of Firth, Idaho, and son, Mike, and his wife, Nancy Hallowell of Denver, as well as three grandchildren— Dard (Mike) Hwiley of lssaquah, Wash., Timothy Mielke of Helena, Mont., and Lindsey Mielke of Kirkland, Wash. Services at 2 p.m. Friday, March 16, 2012, at Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church, 920 Kipling St.. Lakewood.
John Robert (Jack) Hallowell 1920-2012
Known to friends and family as "Hallowell", our Father was blessed to live a long and adventurous life. Dad made friends easily. He listened to your stories. He made you feel important. He stayed in touch. He loved getting together with friends, playing sports, telling stories, enjoying a cold martini. He made the day a little brighter for everyone he touched, whether it was by phone, through a letter or card or sharing a meal. We cannot hope to chronicle all 91 years of our Dad's storied life in the paragraphs that follow. We can only hope to scratch the surface and give you a feel for the life our Dad led and the many lives he touched.
Leslie Hallowell Mielke Michael John Robert Hallowell
John R. (Jack) Hallowell was born in Wilsall, MT, on September 27, 1920. Jack was the only son of Godfrey C. and Mable Carol Hallowell. Godfrey C. was a furrier who immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the late 1890s. Jack had three half brothers – Bill, Ted and Andy Cogswell – from Mable's first marriage to Dr. William Cogswell.
After Jack's father died in November of 1930, Jack and his mother moved to Orchard Homes on the outskirts of Missoula. The move allowed the two to live off the land during The Great Depression. Jack attended the Willard School and faithfully rode his bicycle home for lunch, just to say hi to his mom. Jack helped his mother earn money by picking cherries and de-worming apples. In high school he played sports – lots of sports – basketball, baseball and football wearing a leather helmet.
Hallowell attended the University of Montana where he earned a degree in Journalism. His half-brother Andy taught Journalism at the U of M. Andy's father-law was editor of Missoulian. One of Jack's jobs during high school was to run information off the newspaper's teletype machine to the newspaper's open window where citizens were waiting on the streets for news about fights and other sporting events.
One legendary fight Jack liked to recall in great detail was the second heavyweight fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey in September of 1927. A bout referred to as The Long Count." The controversy was generated by a new rule installed before the contest. After a knockdown the opponent was to go to a neutral corner. Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the 7th but hovered over Tunney until the referee pushed him towards a proper corner. At the 9 count Tunney got off the ropes and continued, winning a decision after the 12th round. Viewing film later, the count would have been 13 and given Dempsey the Championship. Jack loved both the spirit of this legendary fight and the role he played in keeping Missoula sports fans abreast of the action.
After graduating from the University of Montana, Hallowell accepted his first journalism job as a sportswriter in Butte, MT. This move could be where Jack lost some of his shyness and began developing his legendary people skills interacting daily with the hardworking, hard-drinking men who worked the copper mines in rough and tumble Butte.
World War II
Hallowell enlisted in the Army in 1942. He took his basic training at Camp Roberts, CA, and then traveled by troop train across the country to join the 45th Infantry Division at Pine Camp, NY. He was assigned to E Company, 157th Infantry, the Colorado National Guard Regiment. Hallowell liked to tell people, "Pine Camp was so deep in snow they would lose you if you fired your rifle from the prone position."
Hallowell started his service as an assistant gunner for a mortar squad. The 45th saw its first combat July 10, 1943, making an amphibious landing in Sicily during a heavy storm. Hallowell was second wave off the landing crafts. After helping the 45th take Sicily, Hallowell got the best break of his life. The executive officer of the 157th, Col. Chester James assigned Hallowell to write the regiment's history. Hallowell gladly traded his mortar cannon for a Royal typewriter.
Hallowell survived Anzio, where E Company and the Second Battalion were wiped out. He walked and rode with the troops to Rome, made the landing in southern France, found security in the Vosges Mountains and witnessed the breakthrough at the Siegfried Line. He saw the conquests of Nuremburg and Aschaffenburg and was present for the regiment's most memorable accomplishment – the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich. Jack's unit was the first to enter the back gates of Dachau's horrific death camp on April 29, 1945 – liberating hundreds of starved and tortured survivors, a heroic action that remained with Jack for the rest of his life.
Marriage, Family & A Colorful Career
Following the war, Jack returned to his beloved Montana. He worked as a sportswriter for the Great Falls Tribune, where he met Elisabeth Skaar, the woman he would marry in August 1946. Betsy and Jack had daughter Leslie in 1951 and son Mike in 1953.
In 1960, Jack worked as campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Donald G. Nutter and lieutenant governor candidate Tim Babcock. Both were elected.
Nutter appointed Jack, Montana State Advertising Director. Hallowell loved the job and loved promoting his home state. During his tenure, Jack produced a feature film called "Make Mine Montana" starring and the Jay Rydell family from Great Falls, MT and Jack's horse riding daughter Leslie. He also secured the state motto that endures today, "Big Sky Country." (The deal was struck over drinks at A.B. Gutherie's ranch in Choteau, MT. A.B. was the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Way West" and "The Big Sky".)
When Governor Nutter was killed in an airplane crash in January 1962, Babcock became governor. Hallowell became Babcock's executive secretary, and the two became lifelong friends.
Hallowell went on to work in Washington, D.C. as an aide to Senator Norris Cotton (New Hampshire) based on a recommendation from Montana native and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. Jack transferred to Denver, to help establish the region's first EPA office in 1971. He loved Denver and decided to stay, working in public affairs for both the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
One of the things we suspect people will miss the most about Hallowell is never getting to hear him play the piano again. It was such a big part of who Jack was. He's graced our homes with his music, entertained friends at parties and speakeasies, and drawn grateful audiences wherever he's played.
Playing the piano brought joy to Hallowell and anyone who heard him. He played piano "by ear." Hum a little of a tune and Hallowell would complete it. His playing set toes tapping and vocal cords stretching since he played most tunes in the key of C.
Sportsman and Athlete
Hallowell loved sports and the outdoors. He was a skilled fly fisherman, catching trout on Montana's Clark Fork, Sun and Missouri Rivers. Even after he moved to Colorado, he always made a point to travel home to Montana for his nephew's annual fishing derby.
Jack came by his athleticism naturally. His father played rugby and tennis at Dublin University. In high school, Jack played football – although he wasn't sure about wearing that leather helmet. He also played baseball. He hit for power and was quick and strong enough to play the "hot corner" (third base). If you ever visit the Missoula Club, you'll see his picture on the wall with his state championship softball team.
His greatest loves, of course, were handball and tennis. His speed and eye/hand coordination coupled with his competitive drive, made Jack a fierce opponent. He won numerous tournaments in Montana and Colorado, including state championships in both states and both sports. He played in USTA (tennis) leagues and tournaments in addition to any pick-up game he could find. In recent years you could find him on virtually any Saturday or Sunday morning playing with his buddies at the Sheridan courts in West Denver. He won his last tournament at age 85.
When Jack wasn't playing, he was cheering from the sidelines. When the game was over, he was the first to buy you a cold beer and to remark on how well you played.
After retirement, Hallowell actively served in the 157th Infantry Association. He was president of this veterans' association the past five years. Among his accomplishments:
• Teaming with Dachau survivors to educate youth about the Holocaust
• Having a stretch of Highway between Steamboat Springs and Kremmling named 157th Veterans' Highway
• Working to get General Felix Sparks (his commanding officer in World War II) a distinguished service cross
• Coordinating fun-filled annual reunions of soldiers who served the 157th in World War II
Hallowell's last project was having a bench created to commemorate the 157thh's many accomplishments. The bench currently sits outside the visitor's center at Olinger Crown Hill at 39th and Wadsworth. You can't miss it. It's a beautiful red granite bench that proudly carries the insignia for the Thunderbirds and the 157th. Dad would be honored if you would stop by and see it before it moves to its permanent home in Oklahoma City.
Above all, Jack was a gracious man, one of the first to share credit and to say thank you. On behalf of our families, we thank you for being here today. In whatever manner you knew Hallowell; you honor him with your presence.
We thank Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church, Horan & McConaty and the Colorado National Guard for making today's service an amazing Colorado send off for our Dad.
Finally, we send our heartfelt gratitude to the staff and volunteers at Porter Hospice at the Johnson Center. You didn't get to know Jack for long, but your skilled and loving end-of-life care for our Dad, and your compassionate support for our family, is appreciated more than words can express.
Services will be held on 2 p.m., Friday, March 16, 2012 at Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church, 920 Kipling Street Lakewood, CO. Services in Montana will be on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. at Anderson Stevenson Wilke, 3750 North Montana Avenue, Helena, MT. Burial with military honors will follow at 3:00 p.m., Montana Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison.