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"Jackie Starr Jr." was born in Waitsburg, Washington, on June 14, 1934.  His parents had troubles, hardships really, and at the tender age of three, Jackie's mother sent him to live with her mother back in Iowa.  Living with Grandma was wonderful, although money was tight.  Her small monthly check that she received barely covered food for them.  He told of how they would walk the railroad tracks, picking up pieces of coal that fell from the trains to heat their home.  He also spoke of the many "bums" they encountered that would become their friends.  One man carved a statue of a woman holding a child made out of mud.  Maybe it was because of these people that he always enjoyed meeting and visiting with anyone he came across.  Sadly, Grandma became ill and passed away in a "County Hospital". John said his mother came back for the funeral but never took him home.  He was sent to an orphanage to live.


The orphanage became a home to young Jackie.  There were three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and they treated him nice.  He talked about small jobs he could do and one where he could earn "stamps" to cash in.  On December 8, 1944, at the age of 10, he was adopted by Francis and Emma Carolyn Newquist with the consent of the American Home Finding Association. They gave him the name, John Leland Newquist.  A girl from the orphanage was also adopted, and the family went home to the farm near Ottumwa, Iowa.  He enjoyed the farm and the animals.  Still to the end of his life, he was interested in how the crops were doing, if there was enough rain, and he never passed an animal without extending a hand to pet it or talk to it.  John had an uncle that took him to Canada on several moose hunts and the memories from those trips he never forgot.  On his birthday in 1948, at First Baptist Church in Ottumwa, John graduated 8th grade with other fellow rural students of Wapello County.  He kept the program, a ribbon, and the diploma.  John graduated from Eddyville High School in 1952.  He served his country by enlisting in the U.S. Army from July 26, 1956, until he was Honorably Discharged on April 30, 1958.  His duties were a "Transportation Parts Specialist" and "peeling potatoes" during his time in Korea.


When John returned home to Iowa, he worked for several farmers in the area, one being the Willhoit Family.  Over the years, he kept in loose contact with them, but he never forgot their kindness and friendship.  John soon found work on a bridge construction crew.  He prided himself on the many bridges he helped construct over the years.  It was the new bridge over the Niobrara River, south of Butte, Nebraska, that brought him to our area.


On a cold day, he came into the body shop and found a warm place to stay.  John was always helpful around the shop, by sanding a bumper, running to get parts, taking little Jack Reiman for Dilly Bars, and offering constructive criticism and financial advice to Lawrence and Curt.  He would occasionally pick up the Reiman kids from school and cause a traffic jam by parking almost sideways. He loved to attend the children's Christmas programs and listen to them chatter about their day or what they were hunting or trapping. And he always had a story of his own to go with it.  John and Jack shared their love of flying and had many airplane rides together.  Towards the end of John's life, it was Jack who patiently helped calm John by talking about airplanes, while he was in the Intensive Care Unit.


For years John enjoyed the company of the Reiman, Schmit, Sidak, and Young families during holiday celebrations. He spent many hours going on adventures with Milton Reiman.  He always looked forward to his weekly phone calls with Jerry and eating tomatoes fresh from Bonnie Turpin's garden. John enjoyed the many friends from Spencer and O'Neill that welcomed him into their homes for meals and listened to his many stories.  The old, and sometimes stubborn, man driving the green Dodge pickup found a community that cared for him.  John passed away on October 20th, 2018.  He is now at rest in a wooden box that was hand crafted by a friend, Bob McKenny.  In his rusty popcorn tin, he left a legacy of papers, worn and tattered, but also a treasure. Because of his generosity, there is the John Newquist Educational Foundation, offering scholarships to kids for many years to come.


John is survived by his friends, Lawrence and Jane Reiman and families of O'Neill and Spencer, Curt and Sarah Sidak and family of O'Neill, Milton Reiman of O'Neill, the staff and his friends at Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill, and the Newquist and Willhoit families in Iowa.


John was preceded in death by his Grandma and his adoptive parents.

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