John J. Polich
August 27, 1923 – September 16, 2018
John J. Polich, 95, passed away September 16, 2018 surrounded by his loving family. A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, September 27, 2018 at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church (510 E. 1st St. Ankeny, IA 50021). A visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., with a vigil service at 7:00 pm, Wednesday, September 26, 2018, at Ankeny Funeral Home (1510 W. 1st St. Ankeny, IA 50023). Burial will be at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Adel.
John was born August 27, 1923 to Croatian immigrants Joseph and Mary Polich, and grew up in the “southeast bottoms” on Des Moines’ east side. He fondly recalled days playing with his classmates at the Roadside Settlement, selling Liberty magazines in downtown office buildings, and later delivering the Des Moines Register.
Like many of his generation, John’s life was profoundly impacted by World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, shortly after his graduation from Dowling Catholic High School, and enrolled in the V12 program to become a physician. John – who had never considered being able to attend college – completed his pre-medicine studies at the University of Notre Dame, earned a medical degree from the University of Iowa, served an internship at Hurley Hospital in Flint, Michigan, and a pediatric residency at the University of Michigan. John later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, completing training as a flight surgeon, and leaving with the rank of captain.
John also met the love of his life, Shirley Fritz, during this period. The two were married October 13, 1951 and enjoyed 62 years together before Shirley’s death in 2014.
John practiced pediatrics for 30 years, including in Flint, Oskaloosa, and Des Moines, where he opened an office near Mercy Hospital. He served as chief of staff at Mercy, and also enjoyed providing pediatric training to residents at Iowa Lutheran Hospital.
John was a man of many passions, including golf, computers, exercise, and the Iowa Hawkeyes, but his greatest passion was his wife of 62 years. John and Shirley were inseparable, working and golfing together, and enjoying their retirement years in Corpus Christi, Las Vegas, and Georgetown, Texas. They moved to Ankeny in 2013.
John is survived by his four children; Mark (Victoria) of Indianola, Mike (Terry Fankhauser) of Windsor Heights, Lou (Kathy) of Cassville, Wisconsin, and Maria (Rob) Schweers of Ankeny; a brother, Lou (Joan) of Palm Harbor, Florida; as well as seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley; his parents; a sister, Anne; and a brother, Richard.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to UnityPoint Hospice, Ankeny Senior Center, Kirkendall Public Library and Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church.
- UnityPoint Hospice
- Ankeny Senior Center
- Kirkendall Public Library
- Our Lady's Immaculate Heart Church
- Visitation Wednesday, September 26, 2018
- Vigil Service Wednesday, September 26, 2018
- Mass of Christian Burial Thursday, September 27, 2018