John Edward Thomas "Jack" Softcheck

Now cracks a noble heart. 

Good night, Sweet Prince.

And flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.

                                       "Hamlet," Act 5 Scene 2

John Edward Thomas (Jack) Softcheck of Joliet (IL), who came into this world March 31, 1922, went to his eternal rest Oct. 16, 2020 at the age of 98+.  


His death came from complications of several health issues and was not COVID related, his family noted.  


He was preceded in death by his wife, Kitty Kilgallen Softcheck (whom he married in 1947), in 2008 and his infant daughter Jane in 1956.  


He leaves a large and loving family, including his sister Joan McManamon of Altadena, CA; 10 children and their spouses:

Mary Catherine (Mary Kay) Blake of Arlington, VA;  Joanne Softcheck of Joliet; John James "MacArthur" Softcheck (Karen) of Boynton Beach, FL; Barbara Kaplan (Alan) of Delhi, NY; Daniel James Softcheck (Mary Sue) of Joliet; Jeanne Díaz (José) of Gainesville, FL; Thomas Joseph Softcheck of Joliet;  Richard Roque Softcheck of Joliet;  Margaret Mary (Mimi) Mawson (Richard Scott) of Bellingham, WA; and Brian Softcheck (Diana) of Camano Island, WA.


He also is survived by 15 grandchildren: John Thomas Softcheck (Gil) of Fairhaven, MA; Jeffrey Robert Softcheck (Theresa) of Elmhurst, IL; Sean Daniel Softcheck of Toronto, Canada; Suzanne Margaret Softcheck of Chicago; Patrick Stephen Softcheck of Phoenix, AZ; Damon James Softcheck of Mesa, AZ; Brendan Michael Softcheck of Seattle, WA; Jordan Chase Díaz, Kieran Blake Díaz and Gavin Kai Díaz (Henna) of Gainesville, FL; Ryan Thomas Softcheck of Normal, IL; Catherine Haleh Mawson of Seattle; Theodore (Teddy) David Softcheck of San Francisco, CA; Jack Bain Softcheck of New Haven, CT;  and Brian Boru Softcheck of Waianae, Hawaii.  


One great-grandchild also survives: Faith McKenna Softcheck of Shorewood (IL), as do his 2 nieces and 5 nephews: Dr. Rita McManamon (Ernie Parker) of Decatur, GA; Michael McManamon (Cristina) of Fremont, CA;  Jim McManamon of Murrieta, CA; Kevin McManamon (Nathalie) of San Jose, CA;  Dennis McManamon (Elia) of Glendale; AZ; Tom McManamon of Bangkok, Thailand; and Eileen McManamon of Lake Forest, CA, along with 3 great-nieces and 4 great-nephews: Christopher, Lisa, Jennifer, Matthew, Trevor, Melanie and Luke McManamon.


Two stepgranddaughters  -- Lindsay O'Neill McCabe and Danielle O'Neill -- also survive, as do two stepgreat-grandchildren: Madison McCabe and Tyler Runyon.


Also surviving are his loving former daughter-in-law Mary Lynn Odenthal (Mark) and his devoted caregiver of the past several years Jutta Sonnefeldt.


Born in Vanderbilt (PA),  John moved with his parents (John T. and Julia (Pollack) Softcheck) to Chicago at a young age and attended St. Rita's High School and Loyola University in Chicago, from which he received both his bachelor's and law degrees.   


He served in World War II and attended law school through the GI Bill.  He then worked more than 40 years in legal roles for the federal government and in retirement as a government contractor/consultant.  His roles included Chief of the Procurement Law Division of the U.S. Army Munitions Command in Joliet (where he was noted for outstanding work in The Army Lawyer in December 1972);  Chief of Staff for the Department of Defense's Ammunition Procurement and Supply Agency in Joliet; Chief Legal Counsel for Fermi National Accelerator Lab near Chicago; and Chief of Legal with Argonne National Laboratory for the Atomic Energy Commission (later a part of the Department of Energy). 


He was admitted to the bar of the State of Illinois in 1949 and to the bar to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1965. 


He was a founding parishioner of St. Jude Catholic Church in Joliet and also attended the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet.


Funeral Services for John Edward Thomas “Jack” Softcheck will be held on Friday, October 23, 2020, at the Church of St. Jude, 2212 McDonough St., Joliet, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Friends and family are invited to arrive at 9:45 a.m. to be seated before Mass begins. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park. A celebration of his life will take place when we all may gather again. 

Known for his dry wit, he often joked that because he skipped second grade, whenever he was asked a question to which he didn't know the answer he would reply that the subject must have been taught in second grade.


John fostered a love of nature and the great outdoors in his family through his gardening and by taking them on hiking trips to Starved Rock.  He also instilled a love of history and the natural world, with trips to the Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo and Escanaba (MI) for an annual family vacation. And his making of jam from the fruits of his garden led several of his children to follow his example to this day.


His children, who are grateful to have his example of a life led with courtesy, kindness, justice, faith, humility, humor, generosity and love, recall asking him each birthday and Christmas what gift he would like.


"10 good kids," he would always reply.


We'll do our best, Dad.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to Misericordia (providing care to those with developmental challenges) at 6300 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago, IL 60660 or; to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or;  or to a charity of your choice.


Or, in memory of an exceptionally kind man, perform a random act of kindness.


For more information, please call 815-741-5500 or visit his Memorial Tribute at where you may leave an online condolence or share a favorite memory.


   Loss leaves a heartache no one can heal.

   Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

                                     --- Irish proverb