Jack H. Pretzell
2 June, 1931 – 31 October, 2019
Jack H. Pretzell, age 88, passed away peacefully on October 31, 2019.
Jack is survived by his children - John Pretzell, Patty (Pete) Harrop, and Maureen (Bill) Pretzell-Smith; Grandchildren – Jake Pretzell, Erica (Michael) Gricar, Jack Harrop, Zachary, Mackenzie, and Carly Smith; and Great Grandchildren – Jemma and Alan Gricar. Jack was preceded in death by his father and mother, John and Alma Pretzell, and brother Howard Pretzell.
Jack was raised in Bayside, New York, and it was here as a young boy he learned how to sail and where he built his first sailboat. After high school he became an apprentice patternmaker in 1949, an experience that would foster a lifelong passion for creative woodworking. In 1951 Jack entered the military, serving in the Army for 2 years during the Korean War, and was honorably discharged as Staff Sargent in 1953.
Jack returned to civilian life and continued work in the pattern shop, married Eileen Rhatican, and started a family. Work led him to Michigan, and after working for Erb Lumber there, Jack started a successful career in residential home building.
Jack retired as a builder in 1979, and spent several years renovating homes for use as rental property. In 1985 at the age of 54, Jack fully retired and became a live-a-board sailor to chase his dream of sailing around the world.
For the next several years Captain Jack, along with his wife Audrey, skippered the 37’ Pua Kai throughout the Caribbean.
Their journey led them as far south as Venezuela and Columbia, and their exploration included ports near and far within the entire Caribbean Sea.
Unfortunately, in 1996 Pua Kai hit a reef and sank in the shallow waters off the coast of St. Croix. Jack then called St. Croix his home for the next few years.
In 2000 Jack returned to the United States and bought a home in South Carolina. There he built his dream woodshop (double the size of his home!) and spent the next 15 years designing and crafting creative and unique woodworking projects. Anything that was particularly challenging was of high interest to Jack.
We were fortunate to have had Jack back in Michigan with us for the past 4 years. He will always be remembered for his positive attitude, tenacity, and vitality for life.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday, November 24th, 2019, at 12PM at Pathway Christian Church, 1285 W Drahner Rd, Oxford, MI 48371.
Jack H. Pretzell
28 December 2019
I will always remember Jack as a man who could do anything, big or small. His courage in fulfilling his life-long dream of sailing to near and far places amazed me. Jack was afraid of nothing and his intellect was boundless.
My late husband, Ron, thought the sun rose and set on Jack. He admired Jack more than anyone else in his life. If Jack said it was so, then Ron said it was so.
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Jack's loved ones. The world won't be the same without him.