John Thomas Rooney

June 10, 1917September 6, 2013

John Thomas Rooney Colonel USMC (Retired) 1917-2013

John Thomas Rooney passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on September 6. Born in rural Hansen, Nebraska on June 10, 1917, John later moved to Crawford, Nebraska where he helped with the family farm. Later, the family settled in Orin, Wyoming where John worked in the family-owned gas station, post office, and grocery store during the summers to help earn his way through college. The family later settled permanently in Casper, Wyoming. He graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 1939 with a degree in Forestry, and during college he also enlisted in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following his college graduation, he began active duty in the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. During his military career, John was awarded two Purple Hearts during combat—the first during WWII in the recapture of Guam and the second in the Korean War, near the Hwachon Reservoir. For his service in the Korean War, John was awarded the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military decoration for extraordinary heroism. He was promoted to Colonel in 1957. During his 27 year military career, John was stationed in Massachusetts, Virginia, Guam (where he was the Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks), and California. When John retired from the Marines in 1965, the family moved to Rossmoor, and he worked for the Long Beach Unified School District in an administrative position for ten years before completely retiring in 1976. In 2011, John moved to Sunrise Senior Living in Seal Beach, where he resided until his death. After a two-month courtship, John married Lucinda Joy Van Meter in 1945, and they were blessed with four sons. John and Joy were happily married for 54 years before her passing in 1999. He was a family man who loved to take his sons camping and hiking to explore the wilderness, instilling in them an appreciation of nature. During their married life, John and Joy traveled extensively throughout the world. With their friends from the military and civilian life, they enjoyed dancing weekly at the Officers’ Club at the Long Beach Naval Station and with the Toppers Dance Club. John liked to dance yet complained about having “two left feet.” He also enjoyed working with his hands, whether it was woodworking or gardening. His sons especially appreciated his gifts of hand-made furniture and artisan clocks. John is preceded in death by his son John Lawrence Rooney and his wife Joy. He is survived by his sons Thomas Rooney and his wife Barbara of Garden Grove, Donn Rooney and his wife Bonnie of Fresno, and Gregory Rooney of Costa Mesa. He is also survived by his two sisters, Lucille Pennock and Margaret Boehler of Lander, Wyoming. John leaves behind nine grandchildren and three great-grandsons. Friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life at Westminster Memorial Park, 14801 Beach Blvd, Westminster, CA 92683, (714) 893-2421 on Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 p.m. Colonel Rooney will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors (and, as requested, in his USMC dress blues) at a later date beside his wife Joy and their third son John L. Remembrances can be made to either the Leukemia Society or to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, 825 College Blvd. Suite 102, PMB 609, Oceanside, CA 92057.


  • Visitation Saturday, September 14, 2013
  • Celebration of Life Service Saturday, September 14, 2013

John Thomas Rooney

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Chuck & Marlene Parks

September 14, 2013

JT will always be a hero to us. We are very thankful that we were so blessed to know him. He leaves behind a wonderful family that will always make him proud. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the Rooney families. We are so sorry for your loss and sadness, but know that there is great JOY in Heaven.
Sent with much love from the cousins in the east,
Chuck & Marlene Parks and family

Jackie & Kelli

September 14, 2013

God bless to the Rooney family. You are all in our prayers at this difficult time and may you find some comfort knowing that the good Lord will take good care of him. What an amazing life he led and you now have so many beautiful memories to always keep close to your heart . Rest in peace Colonel.

Donn Rooney

September 13, 2013

Dad, you will always be missed! You were a wonderful role model. I can walk in your tracks, but not fill your shoes. Love you !

John Gillen

September 13, 2013

You know something Colonel...You did make the world a better place.Just look around now because you can now see all from above.Look at the boys and their families and how well they have
done. You stepped up and answered the call of duty in 3 wars.WOW. You created a great family...a legacy that will live on forever .You can rest now sir .You will never be forgotten.Semper Fi...Don't worry, l'll be on Gregs wing for a while. Thanks for giving it all Colonel
God Speed to you
Capt John Gillen USAF
Capt John Gillen Delta Air Lines

Alan Heffernan

September 13, 2013

A true gentleman with a great family. You will be truly missed and your memories cherished by all. Semper Fidelis, Sir.

Captain Leonard R. Shifflette USMC (Ret)

September 12, 2013

Celebrating a life well lived. We will cherish the memories forever.

Greg Rooney

September 12, 2013

Semper Fidelis Dad!