John Bryan Persons
July 18, 1942 – May 17, 2019
John and I and our middle brother Bill were born in Minnesota and moved at a very early age to Milwaukee. That's where we grew up and still return to in memories. Born in 1942, John wasn't old enough to know the end of World War II, but the Great Milwaukee Blizzard of 1947 just may have been the first awareness of what Wisconsin winters could be like for the 4-1/2-year-old. The city was brought to its knees for three days. Except the kids, who reveled in snow angels and snow ball fights in the streets among thousands of disabled vehicles. When the Boston Braves moved to a brand new stadium in Milwaukee in 1953, the heady glow of major league baseball in our town drove us boys to buying spiked shoes, leather mitts, and wooden bats and hiking to Riverside Pumping Station ball fields to knock our scuffed and unraveling baseball around, imagining someday we'd be as great as Eddie Mathews or Warren Spahn. At 21 years of age, John joined the US Coast Guard, serving 4 years as a Radioman on the USCGC ships Cape Hatteras, Buttonwood, Mallow, and Chautauqua in the Pacific Ocean, and then two years in the Coast Guard Reserve. After this, John worked for 34 years as an Air Traffic Controller in the FAA, at the Chicago Center and then the Fort Worth Center, leaving Wisconsin winters behind. He received several commendations for dedication and error-free performance and retired in 2004. He lived in Grand Prairie, Texas for all of his retiring years. John Persons was one of the most generous people I have known. He would buy Christmas gifts for the family that were worth ten times the value of mine. He often left large tips for the workers at his favorite restaurants. Whatever money he earned he was willing to share. But honestly, anyone who took advantage of his generosity to cheat him forever lost his respect - and that was a bigger loss for the cheater.
He has quietly told a story of how he rescued an 18-month-old boy from drowning in a backyard swimming pool due to negligence of his caretaker. John pulled the boy from the pool and revived him using CPR. Years later, he still shook with emotion while telling the story.
Unfortunately, John was inflicted with several blows to his physical health. Parkinson's disease debilitated his posture and gait, as it did to both our father and mother. Then he suffered a heart attack last February. Finally, on May 17, 2019, he left all the suffering behind. John is loved and will be missed. His father George, mother Della (Willmsen), brother William (Bill), and former wife Patsy preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother Robert (Bob), Aunt Shirley (Peterson) Baldwin and her husband Harry Baldwin, cousins scattered across the country, and good friends Garey and Brenda Myers who looked out for him during his last three years.
- Visitation Thursday, May 23, 2019
- Graveside Service Thursday, May 23, 2019