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John "Jack" Edwin DeVoto, Sr.

February 9, 1925

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A Tribute

to a life well lived!


His story began on February 9, 1925 in, Norfolk, VA, John Edwin DeVoto’s life of 95 years ended at home in Brandywine Living at Longwood, Kennett Square, PA. on Monday, October 12, 2020. Jack (family nickname) will be lovingly remembered by, his wife, Mae, together for 72 years! And 3 children, John E. DeVoto Jr, Cindy A. Griffin and Nancy L. McGovern (deceased), son-in-law Michael McGovern and two grandsons, Douglas J. DeVoto and Shane D. Griffin.

His family will miss his great smile, his endless stories about the people he knew, his honesty, his imitation of Fred Flintstone, his helpful advice, his fishing trips in the yellow ‘duck’ boat, his passion for the great outdoors, his baby blue 1962 Rambler Classic and his steadfast devotion as a loving husband and caring father. Mae loved him so much and he loved her dearly too.

Jack began his early years near Naval stations from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba to Norfolk Naval Station, VA. His father, Harry DeVoto Sr. served in the Navy 34 years. Jack spent his school years in Pitman, NJ., where his future sweetheart also lived. Jack was fun loving as well as athletic, playing basketball and football on the varsity teams at Pitman High.

After graduating from HS in 1943, he enlisted to serve in the military with the dream of being a pilot. As he stood in line for flight school, the acceptance of applicants closed just as Jack stood next in line. With disappointment, he took another placement test with the Navy. He tried to fail the test by filling in random answers without reading the questions. Despite this attempt, he passed with a high score for radio operation! But flying remained in his heart, as he found great joy in boarding any size plane and taking to the air. During his retirement years, he turned to flying RC model airplanes as a member of the Silent Knights Soaring Society, Newark, DE.

Back in Pitman, NJ… Jack began to date a gal from HS, Mae Sutphin. Jack told Mae he wanted to be a chicken farmer. Mae said “You can choose me or the chicken farm but not both!” He chose her and married in 1948. While attending Gettysburg College, PA, their first child was born, John Jr. After earning a degree in Chemistry, the family moved to Cumberland, MD and daughter Cindy arrived followed by daughter Nancy.

Jack’s life was devoted to providing for his wife and three kids. The family moved to South River, NJ where Jack began his steady career as a chemical engineer and plant manager for Hercules, Inc. He continued with Hercules for 34 years until retiring in 1989.

The family’s photo albums captured their vacation travels across the country, camping fun and outdoor memories. One trip to Wyoming stands out in his kid’s memories, both the amazing sights but also the time spent on the side of the road, waiting…the Dodge station wagon engine would overheat while pulling a mid-sized trailer. Not Dad’s idea of fun!

Jack’s favorite pastime was fishing. His wife Mae recalls, “We always had to go somewhere that he could fish. Even when we went to St. John, just he and I, we drove a small island car from one beach to another so he could fish. He was happy fishing, and I liked the beaches!” John Jr. remembers how his Dad would be just as excited for someone else reeling in a fish as if he were the one catching the fish. Cindy loved the times that Dad spent with her and sister Nancy fishing for perch in the lakes ‘up north’ in the Adirondacks, NY. This is where Jack and Mae built their retirement home on Church Pond near Saranac Lake, NY. Church Pond was shaped like a heart! The family enjoyed years of vacationing there.

His family agrees, Jack was always there for them especially as a guiding mentor to his two grandsons. Both Doug and Shane speak about how their passions and career paths were a result of their grandfather’s influence in their earlier years.  “I will always cherish our summers in the Adirondacks that instilled in me a love of the outdoors and will remember your engineering stories you shared with me while I studied for a similar profession. You will continue to guide me from afar.”, reflects Doug. Shane writes “I was blessed to have such an amazing Grandfather. Some of my first memories of PopPop are hours of playing with the HO train layout he had built. His guidance helped me through school and introduced me to golf and fly fishing which I continue to enjoy.” Son John learned the basics of his woodworking skills with his Dad. Son-in-law Michael sums it up this way, “If you needed advice, Jack had advice for you. If you had a question, he had an answer.” That was Jack!

Dearest Jack,

We thank God for you ! And we know you’re not far from us… you’ve just ‘gone fishin’ !

With love from all of us.

Services will be private. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the: Gary Sinise Foundation, P.O. Box 368, Woodland Hills, CA  91365


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