John Reetzke was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 16, 1949 to Richard and Phyllis (Hackstein) Reetzke. His family moved to Louisville, Kentucky when he was 14 years old. He graduated from Atherton High School in 1967.
John entered Purdue University as a member of the inaugural pledge class of the Purdue Evans Scholars, a foundation providing scholarships to golf caddies. John completed a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management with a minor in Computer Science in 1972. He understood the significance of the fine education he received at Purdue and made ongoing contributions to the Evans Scholarship program.
After college, John worked for International Harvester in Louisville and was transferred to Kansas City when the company reorganized as J. I. Case. In July, 1983, John and Kelley met playing softball. They married three years later and moved to Racine, Wisconsin until 1992, then moved back to Kansas City, MO. He then began his second career as a math teacher at Lees Summit High School in 1994, concurrently earning a Master’s Degree in Education at CMSU. “Mr. Reetzke” served on many committees, sponsored clubs and was twice chosen to be Honorary Football Coach. He earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and students with his gentle way, sense of humor, and his perpetually open heart. He retired from teaching in May, 2014. Subsequently, when he encountered former students working in area hospitals or at restaurants or attending ball games, they were quick to tell him what a great teacher he was, and how he impacted their lives.
John Reetzke carried within himself a quiet and ferocious resolve to fight for his life; which he did many times. John’s quick wit, beaming smile and positive attitude would often made him the favorite patient of the nursing staff when he was in the hospital.
John Reetzke was a man who was well-loved and loved well. He enjoyed a good laugh; a great blues song and March Madness. John loved his family, and enjoyed meeting new people; often inviting strangers to join in the game at the pool table or while tailgating. John Reetzke lived an honorable and courageous life. He lived his life at his own pace, because he wanted to take everything in. He noticed details in everyday moments that others might not give a second thought--like the strength in his Mother’s hand as she maneuvered her wheelchair from kitchen to carpeted living room or the smell of dinner cooking on the grill. He enjoyed floating in a tube on the lake or riding a towel on the beach with a cold one in his hand and classic rock on the radio. His music enjoyment was old-school, with a turn-table and two massive speakers in his living room to play his extensive collection of vinyl records. He also loved to laugh! Explosive, face consuming, knee-slapping, laughter is memorable to those who experienced it.
Most of all, John loved his wife of 33 years, Kelley. They were a loving, formidable team. Whether maintaining their home, lying in the sun on the beach, attending a Royals game or hiking the Smokies, John and Kelley did it together. They enjoyed attending concerts and traveling to state parks, never failing to add a tee shirt to commemorate each event. They faced every joy and every obstacle together, holding hands, and finding something to smile about.
John is survived by his wife, parents, his brother, Daniel (Denise) one nephew, two nieces, and three great-nieces, a large extended family and many friends. He is preceded in death by his brother Richard and his sister Martha. John was 70 years of age and lived in Raytown, MO.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Purdue Evans Scholarship Foundation. Call Judy Hammond (847)724-4600 for donation instructions. Donations may also be made to St. Luke’s Hospice Foundation. The family would like to invite everyone to Side Pockets in Lee's Summit following the service.