Funeral Mass set Tuesday at St. Pius X in Rock Island for Deacon Jack Kettering, 87

Deacon Jack Kettering

ROCK ISLAND — A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 23, at St. Pius X Church here for Deacon Jack M. Kettering, who was a member of the second class of permanent deacons ordained for the Diocese of Peoria.

Deacon Kettering — who served at parishes including Sacred Heart and St. Pius X in Rock Island, St. Ambrose in Milan, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis from his ordination in 1979 until being granted senior status in 2008 — died on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at UnityPoint Health-Trinity, Rock Island. He was 87.

Visitation will be in the church, 2502 29th Ave., from 9 a.m. until the time of the Mass. A rosary will be recited at 8:45 a.m.

Burial will be in the Rock Island National Cemetery, where military honors will be conducted by the Moline American Legion Post No. 246.

Because of the pandemic, no reception is planned.


Born Aug. 8, 1932, in Rock Island, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 and fought in the Korean conflict. There he met a priest who took the time to listen to his questions. So began a love affair with the Catholic faith that lasted a lifetime.

Upon his return from Korea, he finished high school and attended St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. Although he didn’t complete his bachelor’s degree, he was a lifelong learner, taking many additional courses and pursuing a love of reading over the next 65 years.

After some consideration of monastic life, he married Marian Leenknecht on May 4, 1957. They would have six children, losing two as infants. Jack became a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and often worked additional jobs to support his growing family.

When the permanent diaconate was reestablished, Jack entered formation and was ordained on Nov. 18, 1979, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. He would engage in jail and hospital ministry, coordinate religious education programs, visit shut-ins, deliver homilies, and assist at Mass. He enjoyed giving talks for Cursillo and Teens Encounter Christ, sometimes performing — fully costumed — as St. Francis and Don Quixote.

He also heard many Alcoholics Anonymous “Fifth Steps” during which recovering addicts shared deeply personal reflection on past wrongs and new beginnings.

Deacon Kettering had a passion for running and completed his first marathon at the age of 45. After retiring from the U.S. Postal Service, he worked building sets and doing other maintenance for Circa 21 theater.

He is survived by his wife, Marian; a brother, Donald; three sons, Joe (Rose) of Coal Valley, Tom (Kim) of Milan, and John (Don) of Woodland Hills, California.; a daughter, Jane, of East Moline; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his son and daughter, Stephen and Katherine; a younger brother, Dick Kettering; his parents; and a granddaughter, Heather.

Memorials may be made to Quad City Right to Life.

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