|John E. "Jack" Bivens, age 87, of Knoxville, Illinois, died at 9:25 A.M. on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at the Knox County Nursing Home in Knoxville, Illinois. He had resided there since July of 2010, at the same facility where he and his wife, Patricia had served as the first administrators of the new building in 1965. Jack was born on October 23, 1923, in Abingdon, IL, the youngest child of Joseph & Bethel Merriman Bivens. He was raised in Avon, IL and attended Avon schools, excelling in track & field athletics.
He was first married to Alberta Kelly, and later to Patricia Hill Wright, his life-partner for over 50 years. She survives, along with their children: Art (& Karen) Wright of Greenville, NC, Georgene Thompson of Carlisle, PA, Jeff (& Peg) Bivens of Knoxville, IL, and Patti Sue Arnold of Shell, Ecuador; seven grandchildren: Greg (& Carmen) Wright, Kim (& Todd Harblur) Wright, Erik ( & Sylvia) Thompson, Bridger (& Kelly) Thompson, Tricia Bivens Gilbert, Israel (& Rachel) Flora and Joseph Arnold; eight great grandchildren: Aubree Bivens, Janie & Briar Thompson, Will & Samuel Thompson and Heaven, Lilyan & Israel Flora II. His parents, an infant brother and siblings: Max Bivens and Colieth Reno preceded him in death.
A veteran of World War II, he served with the Naval Armed Guard aboard the Liberty Ships. His fascination with water and boats followed him throughout his life. Boating and fishing were always active hobby interests.
Jack worked a number of jobs throughout his lifetime including laborer at CH Masland & Son in Carlisle, PA; contract painting in Hollywood, FL; public works supervision in Avon, and nursing home administration in Bushnell and Knoxville. He was a tool and die maker at both Outboard Marine Corporation and Vaughn & Bushnell, retiring in 1988.
Civic involvement included the Knoxville Kiwanis Club, the Illinois Nursing Home Administrator's Association where he served as its first president, the volunteer fire department, and a bid for state senator of Illinois.
An avid reader who was inquisitive by nature, Jack continued to labor at new and interesting endeavors during retirement years. He and Pat enjoyed the milder climate of Lake George, GA and traveled to visit Ecuador. At age 80, he tackled carpentry of a new home in rural Avon, assisted by his nephew Allen. Jack and Pat then embraced a self-sufficient lifestyle and their small farm included goats, chickens, fruit trees, and a large garden.
Cremation rites were accorded with internment and a memorial service to be scheduled at a later date. Two philanthropies to which Jack had special ties are Friends of the Knox County Nursing Home and Casa de Fe orphanage in Shell, Ecuador, where memorials have been established in his name.
Hurd-Hendricks Funeral Home and Crematory in Knoxville, Illinois in charge of arrangements. On-line condolences and sympathy cards may be sent through www.hurd-hendricksfuneralhome.com