John Mitchell Paszkeicz, 81, of Wilson Creek, WA passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on April 19, 2019 due to complications from Stomach Cancer and Cirrhosis of the Liver. John was born in Oakdale, CA on December 5, 1937. John was preceded in death by his father Anthony Adolf Paszkeicz, mother Elsie Ghilarducci, wife Catherine Geraldine Paszkeicz (Jeri), step-daughter Cathay June Acton-Noll, and devoted partner Helen Pugh. He is survived by Barbara Dotson, children Anthony John Paszkeicz (Bonnie), Randy Mitchell Paszkeicz (Nobalea), Mandy Jane Paszkeicz-Smith, Shawn Mitchell Paszkeicz (Naomi), brothers Alex Paszkeicz and Lawrence Burton, along with numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
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John and Alex were raised on a farm by their father, Anthony, in California. At seventeen, John took a job as an electrician’s apprentice. He worked for two years learning the electrical trade until his graduation from high school in 1956. John joined the Air Force and for the next six years he was trained in the Titan Missile Program.
John was a big man. He stood 6’4” and wore a size 16 shoe. John earned the nickname “Big John” from the popular Jimmy Dean song “Big Bad John,” but he wasn’t bad. His size was intimidating and he sometimes used his size to stop problems from escalating. Whenever an aggressor was confronted by Big John, he backed off.
John met Jeri during a visit to his cousin, Carl Carlson, in Porterville, CA, who was married to Jeri’s Aunt Fredeline. It was love at first sight, and it wasn’t long before John asked Jeri to marry him. Still in the service when they married, he took Jeri and her daughter Cathay to Denver, CO, where John was stationed. They were married on October 10, 1961, just before John’s release from the service. He accepted a job with Pacific Power & Electric in Fortuna, CA, where their son, Anthony John, was born in 1962. Shortly after, the family moved to Tulare, CA where John worked for Tulare Pipe and Electric as a journeyman in the electrical, plumbing, and sheet metal departments.
John was a fun loving person. He loved to dance and was often found on the dance floor making some of his Elvis Presley moves. He also loved games and loved to win, hated to lose. He loved to prank people, too. When he and Jeri were dating, they pranked some of the town gossipers. Jeri temporarily dyed her hair black and the two went out on the town to do some dancing. The next day the gossip was out that John had been seen with another woman. They laughed for years about their prank.
John had a dream of owning his own electrical business. He worked hard and saved enough money to relocate his family to Everett, WA in 1966 during the Boeing boom. He opened a residential electrical business called Colby Electric, Inc. John needed employees so he offered Jeri’s father and brothers the opportunity of being trained in the electrical trade. Most of Jeri’s family moved to Everett as soon as John got the business set up. Later, Jeri’s brother Don, who worked in sheet metal, moved to Everett when John diversified the business and changed the name to Colby Electric, Heating, and Sheet Metal, Inc.
John and Jeri’s family began to grow with the addition of Randy Mitchell in 1968, Mandy Jane in1969, and Shawn Mitchell in 1975. They loved children and many times had their children’s friends staying with them.
John was a Jack of All Trades, and after closing Colby Electric, he took a job as a logger for a while, and then went back to construction and worked for Custom Homes, Inc., doing framing, wiring, plumbing, and supervision.
For recreation, both John and Jeri camped, hunted, socialized, and became avid pool players, playing in leagues and tournaments around the state. At one time they had so many trophies that they didn’t have room to display them all.
John became anxious again to operate his own company and opened Passkey Homes, Inc., in 1978, becoming a General Contractor for residential homes.
John had a way about him and he was great with people. He also had a way with getting work out of his employees. He often rewarded his employees by knocking off early and buying them lunch, a beer, and shooting a game of pool. Sometimes employees were rewarded with a fishing trip on a boat out of Westport, WA, fishing being another of John’s favorite pastimes. He loved to have fun and often intermingled his hobbies with work.
John trained employees, his children, friends of his children, and relatives to work in the many areas of construction because John could build a house from the ground up by himself. He knew how to do all phases of construction from pouring the foundation to the finish carpentry. He had the patience to let his trainees do the job, and if they made mistakes, he showed them how to fix the problem.
John would be the first to jump when someone needed help. Once, his father-in-law, Trufurd Walker, was making an addition to his house. Trufurd had set up the foundation framework and then had a cement truck come out and pour the cement. Then he called John and asked what to do next. John yelled at his son, John, “Come on, we gotta go help Trufe before the cement sets up.” John had a special place in his heart for his father-in-law and would do just about anything for him. Later, when John retired and started restoring vintage vehicles, he restored a 1970 Ford F-100 pickup. On the tail gate was the word FORD. John added the letters TRU to make it TRUFORD, a True Ford in honor of Trufurd, who passed away in 2004. Ironically, Trufurd’s name was often misspelled on documents as Truford. Being a Ford man himself, Trufurd would have been extremely honored if he would have been alive to see that truck.
After Passkey Homes, John became a subcontractor for various jobs, traveling to work around the state. John moved his family to Quincy, WA in 1993, continuing as a subcontractor. In 1997 he accepted a job with Grant County, maintaining county buildings, remodeling offices, and supervising work-release inmates.
Jeri’s health declined due to Emphysema and COPD. John lovingly took care of her for several years until she passed in 2001. After 39 years of marriage, John was a widower.
He missed female companionship and became devoted partners with Helen Pugh. They went dancing, travelling, and having fun together. Helen was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2010.
Missing companionship again, John met a very special person, Barbara Dotson. John loved to go dancing with Barbara and to just spend time with her. They often went dancing at the senior center in Moses Lake. They also traveled together to Barbara’s house in Texas or went somewhere they always wanted to go. John valued his time with Barbara and the family is grateful for the happiness she brought to him.
One of John’s favorite card games was Cribbage. He played with anyone who would play with him and he loved to bet. He had games, tournaments, and bets going with different people. For a while he played weekly with grandson Anthony and whoever lost for the week had to buy the other a Prime Rib dinner on Friday night.
While working for the county, John was sometimes in charge of work release inmates. His way with people earned him respect and it was no different with prisoners. He even left the inmates for short periods of times and nobody ever tried to escape. John taught the inmates how to play Cribbage and set them up to play against each other in the county shop. The inmates enjoyed working with John so much that they made him a Crib Board for a retirement gift.
John was always a betting man and loved to play the horses, particularly since his brother Alex raised and trained racehorses. John would always bet on the horses that Alex had trained, sometimes taking the long shot, and many times won money on those horses.
John continued to be active almost right up to his last moments. The family is very appreciative of the Veterans Hospital in Spokane, WA where veterans are taken on field trips to get them out, socialize, and have fun. John went to a pumpkin patch, bowling, the county fair, a hockey game, and local fishing trips.
The family is also appreciative of Salmon for Soldiers, who took John on a Salmon fishing trip in Puget Sound. While on the boat, John was presented with a quilt honoring our veterans. It meant a great deal to John to get out, go places, and do some of the things he loved while he still could.
Each person that came in contact with John holds some special memories of him. Please share those memories on his tribute page in the online obituary or at his Celebration of Life. Rest in Peace, John, we will all miss you.
The family invites everyone to a Pot Luck and Celebration of Life for John on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at the Senior Center, 608 E 3rd Ave, Moses Lake, WA from 1:00 – 4:00 PM. Attire is casual.
Donations may be made in John's name to Salmon for Soldiers.
Please leave a memory for the family or sign their online guest book at www.scharbachs.com
Scharbach' Columbia Funeral Chapel, Quincy, assisted the family with arrangements.