The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

John Michael (Lichaczewski) Ruditis


April 17, 2018

WAKEFIELD, Mich. - John Michael (Lichaczewski) Ruditis, 67, of Wakefield, passed away on April 15, 2018 at home after a long and courageous fight with stage-four cancer.

John was born on May 12, 1950, in Ironwood, son of the late John and Rose (DiGiorgio) Lichaczewski. At age 6, he was adopted by Anton P. and Margaret (DiGiorgio) Ruditis. He attended St. Ambrose Catholic School and graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood in 1968.

John joined the Navy on May 28, 1969 as Logistics Management Specialist. During this time, he served on the USS Fulton (AS-11) and then the USS Robert A. Owens (DD-827). John then was given orders to relocate to Keflavik, Iceland on independent duty. Before moving to Iceland, John asked his beloved Judith Wiita of Wakefield to become his wife, and they were united in marriage on Dec. 18, 1971 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Ironwood. Judy accompanied John to Iceland until he had new orders that returned him to the state of Illinois at the Recruit Training Command (where Jeremy was born). After a short recruiting assignment in Ironwood, he was transferred to the USNS Bowditch (T-AGS-21 Oceanographic Research Unit). He then went back overseas serving on the USS Holland (AS-32) in Holy Lock, Scotland (where Nikki was born). To have more adventures in his life, he attended submarine school in Groton, Conn. and was placed on the USS Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN 658). He later returned back to Illinois to Recruit Training Command Staff duty. The love for being on submarines allowed him to return and had him advancing as Chief of the Boat on the USS Daniel Boone (SSBN 625) and then as one crew on the USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN 624). After his time with the Woodrow Wilson, he was stationed in Portsmouth, Va., as Command Master Chief of the Atlantic Fleet Integrated Logistics Activity, and then decided to retire after 26 years of dedicated service.

Together John and Judy were blessed with two children Jeremy (Maria Ferrell) and Nikki (Josh Irvin) and later adopted Shanntel and Trinety. Grandchildren Samantha Irvin and Alexander Irvin also survive.

Other survivors include brothers, Bob (Darlene) Green of Ontonagon, Paul (Sherrie) Ruditis and Kyle (Tammy) Thompson from Gurney, Wis .; sister, Debbie (Dave Wilcox) Ruditis of California; four brothers-in-law, Donald Wiita, Michael (Sharon) Wiita, Thomas Wiita, Gerald (Kathy) Wiita, all from Wakefield; five sisters-in-law, Kathy (Dwayne) Fisk, Nancy (Jim) Clowney, both from South Carolina, Peggy (John) Garvey of Illinois, Amy (Mike) Rahko, Ironwood and Vicky Templer (Steve) of Hurley, Wis .; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins and a host of good friends.

After retirement John worked as shipping manager for Action Floors in Mercer, Wis. for 17 years. During John and Judy's marriage they hosted fourteen exchange students from twelve different countries. They were foster parents to several children in need including stray children that Jeremy and Nikki brought home under their wings and also sponsored a little boy (Angel) from the Dominican Republic.

John was a member of All Saints Lutheran Church, was the District Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Commander of VFW of Bessemer 3673. He was a member of the American Legion and the Adjutant and Treasurer of the Disabled American Veterans. When not volunteering in these positions, he loved spending time with his family camping, fishing, playing cards and board games. He was an avid reader (especially Tom Clancy novels) and loved to play fetch with his dog Butchie. In the colder weather he enjoyed hot tubbing, snow sledding and traveling to the warmer climate islands.

Besides his biological and adopted parents, John was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Viola Wiita and father-in-law, Donald Wiita.

A memorial service of John's life will be at All Saints Lutheran Church at 1202 Putnam Street in Wakefield on Thursday, April 19, at 11 a.m. with the Reverend Bill Jacobson officiating. The family will receive relatives and friends at the church beginning at 10:00. Following the service will be a lunch served in the fellowship hall.

Full military rites will be conducted by a joint Bessemer and Wakefield VFW and American Legion Honor Guard.

John's remains have been cremated. Ketola-Burla Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements

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