The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

John 'Jack' Giovanoni


HURLEY, Wis. - The man. The myth. The legend. John "Jack" Giovanoni, 82, croaked (as he would say) on April 18, 2017, at the Villa Maria Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hurley, surrounded by his loving family. As Jack liked to say, he "never had it so good!"

Jack was bigger than life, with a dry wit and sense of humor to match. Even when he was laid low by illness, he never complained, just treated each situation with the same matter-of-fact style. He loved to drop one-liners and stand back to watch their effect. When a nurse would check in to see how he was doing, he'd say, "I don't want to hurt your virgin ears, but I'm happier than a two-peckered goat." He also liked to say, "If I'd a known I was going to live this long, I woulda saved more money!"

Jack was born Sept. 6, 1934, in Hurley, son of the late Sam and Pia Maria (Oddino) Giovanoni. He graduated from J.E. Murphy High School with the class of 1952. He attended Marquette University and was a proud member of the university's Champion Beer Chugging Team and the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity.

After college, Jack took over the family business (Giovanoni's) in 1962, where he served his customers with an unparalleled dedication for 55 years as owner. He was a fixture on the store floor. When customers asked, "how's it going, Jack?", he would typically reply with his trademark, "finer than frog's hair!"

He married the love of his life and his high school sweetheart, Joan A. Fontecchio, on April 28, 1956, in Milwaukee. Together they shared over 60 years of everything life through their way. They doted on one another to the end.

Jack was a fearless leader in his community. And he was a smart man. His drive and business sense was put to good use with his many endeavors. He was a member and served on the board of the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce for many years. He was dedicated to "all things Hurley." He was a proud supporter of the Paavo Nurmi Marathon and had the finish chute "block" dedicated in his name at the 2015 event.

He was a founding member of the Copper Peak board and the Eagle Bluff Golf Club, where he served as president of the board. He founded the "Last Never Again Giovanoni Golf Outing" (GGO). Jack was a 60-year member of the Hurley Lions Club. He was a member of the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, and the Iron County Ambassadors Drum and Bugle Corps.

He was the president of the Iron County Development Zone Council, an office he served with great passion, always striving to bring industry back to his hometown and surrounding areas. He served as president of the Iron County Republican Party and his political connections helped develop many opportunities for the area.

Jack was a spirited supporter of all Hurley athletics. He attended every sporting event possible, and never missed one of his grandkids' games, whether it was a football game or bar league softball game. When the high school football team was headed to state competition and the team needed turf shoes, he bought shoes for every member on that team. For his long-time devotion to Hurley sports, he was an honorary inductee to the Hurley Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. He and his wife, Joan, were also honored with induction into the Hurley Education Foundation's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009 for their service to the school and their community.

Just as his love for his close family and friends was boundless, his love for the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Tigers, whisky and salt was unconditional. You would often find Jack socializing and enjoying his love for all of the above at one of his favorite local establishments. To say he was a colorful character would be an understatement.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; his two beloved daughters, Jill (Rich) Tilton and Jaclyn (Whitey) Stengard; his two grandchildren, the lights of his life, Jake (Vicki) Tilton and Bryann Stengard; brothers, Joe and Pete (Kris) Giovanoni; numerous nieces and nephews; and countless friends.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Mary Jo Giovanoni; brother-in-law, Dexie Fontecchio; and sister-in-law, Joyce Giovanoni.

Cremation has taken place.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated Friday, April 28, at 2 p.m., at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hurley, with Father Frank Kordek, OFM, celebrant. Visitation will be from 12:30 p.m. until the time of Mass.

Over 30 years ago, Jack gave his best friend and business partner, Greg Loreti, a portion of his will, detailing the instructions for his final "party." Greg has carried those instructions with him since that day. They offer a glimpse inside the mind of the man who was Jack Giovanoni: "I give to my friend, Gregory A. Loreti, the sum of not more than 10 thousand dollars for the following purpose: My friend is hereby directed and charged with the duty of arranging a proper wake upon my passing. Said wake should provide a proper and fit selection of food, drink, and music that will enable my many friends and customers the opportunity to enjoy to the fullest the aforesaid pleasures which we, here on earth, strive to obtain. I further direct and charge my friend, Gregory Loreti, that in his selection of music, he insure that the band be capable of rendering a passable version of that song known as 'When the Saints Come Marching In,' together with an appropriate selection of music by Ray Price."

In keeping with Jack's wishes, a party in celebration of Jack's life will be held at the Iron County Memorial Building following the Friday memorial service. Cowboy hats optional.

The family would like to offer a special thank you to the Kutz family and the staff of Villa Maria for going above and beyond to make it possible for Jack to come home, and to Nancy Levra for staying with Jack until the remainder of the family could join him. You were a godsend.

Arrangements have been entrusted to McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home Inc., Ironwood. Condolences may be expressed online at

"Rest easy, Jack, for your good deeds go with you."


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