July 23, 1918 - July 23, 2020
Langevin • El Paraiso Funeral Home
He was born in a Seattle just emerging from the pioneer years. A horse-drawn wagon brought milk to his house where it was kept in an icebox. Troubles were everywhere in 1918. His Uncle Herbert was crawling through the trenches of France in World War I, his neighbors were paralyzed from polio, his family all wore masks outside and the city was shut down because of the Spanish Flu pandemic.
But Jack Herbert Roth brought a shining light into that darkness on July 23, 1918. Born with insatiable curiosity and a drive to explore, he would lead a life of adventure and service, bringing peace and generosity and heaps of fun to his family, his friends and to people in countries all over the world.
Jack enjoyed every minute of his childhood… shooting rats for a bounty, hitching a ride on the back of the street cars with his roller skates, and losing marbles in his garden (that the family who lived there seventy years later dug up with their carrots and gave back to him when he was ninety). Growing up on the shores of Lake Washington, at age ten he patched a $1.50 rowboat with tar and rags, and rowed it to Mercer Island for a campout between the handful of cabins on the beach.
When the Depression brought hard times to Jack’s family and the power and water were shut off, Boy Scout Jack cooked dinner on the fire he built in the back yard and sneaked buckets of water from the neighbor’s hose after dark.
With mom on the piano, Uncle Ralph fiddling and grandparents singing Irish tunes, Jack was steeped in music. On Saturdays he bounced in time to cowboy music, sitting on the bench of the giant organ in the Paramount Theater as his Uncle Herbert thundered the keys and pedals for silent western movies. At a wee age he played clarinet for private events with The Saxophone Orchestra, then in band and orchestra at Garfield High, and on the University of Washington Husky Marching Band.
At UW, Jack joined the crew as a coxswain in 1936, right after his teammates won the gold medal in Berlin. From Coach Al Ulbrickson he learned Olympic level discipline, and George Pocock instilled a lifelong love of woodworking that led to building two boats and a whole flock of birdhouses.
Jack ran J.M. Roth Shipping Tools through college as his dad struggled with terminal cancer, then sold it to Seattle Steel before joining the Navy during WWII giving his mother a nest egg in case he didn’t come back. In the South Pacific Jack was a storekeeper on a landing craft, dodging submarines, and transporting Special Forces. His crew was one of the first to land in Tokyo after the surrender. They were terrified, but the Japanese people welcomed peace. After the war he enjoyed selling steel for Ryerson, working with engineers to construct ships, bridges and buildings across the Northwest.
He proposed to Lucille on a houseboat on Lake Washington, then took her up in his seaplane to buzz their families on the shores of the lake. They celebrated their engagement with Scotch and soda at a speak-easy. Lucille and Jack filled the lives of their children with adventure, sailing, climbing, fishing and skiing every weekend. “My children won’t need drugs,” Jack said. “I’ll keep them high on life.”
Jack was retired for 41 years. The instant he retired he took over cooking to give Lucille a break. His pecan pies and homemade wines won prizes. Jack volunteered in the community, working at the soup kitchen, helping the elderly with finances and yard work, tutoring children at the elementary school. He and Lucille explored the world, drinking vodka with babushkas on a rattling Russian train, listening to Mozart symphonies in Salzburg, dodging bullets in war-torn Bosnia, and riding bicycles through villages in the Baja. They traveled through the U.S. visiting their children and grandchildren.
Jack’s Catholic faith permeated his life. His constant care for others and for the environment reflected his love for God, God’s people and God’s creation.
Although his last years were difficult, Jack never lost his zest for life or his dry wit. He fought mightily to reach 102 and died on his birthday shortly after Carol sang the happy birthday song to him. Jack looked forward to praying for all of us from heaven.
Jack is survived by son Ron (Susan) Roth, son Greg (Becky) Roth, daughter Carol Roth, nephew Larry (Deborah) Lamb, grandchildren Peter (Naomi) Moore, Emily (John) Harvey, John (Cindy) Roth, Alex Roth, Charissa (Mack) Marenko, Nick (Kimberli) Roth, and Kari Roth, great-grandchildren Kalen, Joel and Wren Moore, Jack and Ruth Harvey, Danny, Dylan and Kate Conner, Mack and Autumn Marenko. He was preceded in death by his wife Lucille (Randrup) Roth, parents John and Mary (Malloy) Roth, sister Helen Roth Lamb, and brother Elbert Roth. To leave a memory for the family please visit www.lepfuneralhome.com.