John Francis Shea
John Francis Shea, 85, of Cedar Rapids, died peacefully in his sleep Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. A private family Funeral Mass will be held at St. Jude Catholic Church. All in attendance are required to wear a mask and respect social distancing guidelines. Teahen Funeral Home is serving the family.
John was born Dec. 3, 1934, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated from St. Patrick's High School and joined the U.S. Navy at age 17. After his service in the Navy, he moved to Milwaukee and attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering. There he met the love of his life, Mary Kilsdonk. They were married in 1960 in Milwaukee and as the good Catholics that they were, started having babies right away. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born 10 months after they were married and seven more children followed. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Cedar Rapids and built a house next to the homestead where John was born. They proceeded to raise their eight children in this small three bedroom, one bathroom home. They built a life and a family in this home that included many hours spent in their huge garden and large shop that served as both a home for John's business and later for his woodworking hobby. In his retirement years, you could often find John in his shop cutting various woodworking patterns for his grandchildren to paint.
John was a lifelong electrician. He took over the family business, Cedar Rapids Electric Co., from his father. He joined IBEW Local 405 as a journeyman electrician in 1961 and was a proud union member for 59 years. He was proud to have his sons Jamie and Mike work with him in the family business for several years. Likewise, he was thrilled to have his four sons (and one grandson-in-law) follow his lead and become electricians.
John loved using his skills to help others. He worked on many relatives, friends and stranger's homes over the years. When traveling, he often brought his toolbox with him for various projects. After the flood of 2008, he and a group of retired electricians who called themselves the "Old Farts" worked on many affected houses in the Cedar Rapids area, helping countless families get back into their homes.
John was a proud Irishman and always was the life of the party. He was the first one on the dance floor and the best dancer, hands down. He had the gift of Irish gab and told great stories and made countless friends. Many of those friends were part of SaPaDaPaSo, the Cedar Rapids Saint Patrick's Day Parade Society. A highlight of his parade adventures was the year he rode on a float in a casket, frequently rising up to take a drink of beer while "In Heaven There Is No Beer" played on the loudspeaker. He wore his green Irish cap from Ireland every Saint Patrick's Day. In his later years, John realized that his love of the drink was interfering with his family life. In a true show of his character and determination, he stopped drinking and was able to remain sober the rest of his life. (Much to his wife's relief!) Once sober, he spent his time trying to make his wife happy, which often involved spending time with his children and many grandchildren, even though he would often have preferred sitting in his chair quietly reading a book.
John was a man of great faith. After losing his daughter Bridget at the age of 4 to leukemia, their Catholic faith brought them through this unspeakable tragedy and they went on to welcome three more children after this loss. John and Mary never missed Mass, bringing along all their children, no matter their age. Likewise, they were committed to providing their children with a Catholic education, with all of them graduating from LaSalle High School. John could frequently be found wiring the school or changing the light bulbs at the church to work off their hefty tuition bill.
John is survived by Mary, his loving wife of 60 years, his seven surviving children, Lissa Shea (Kent) Ray of Chicago, Jamie of Marion, Mike of Cedar Rapids, Kerry (York) Nelsen of Grimes, Chris (Jeff) Hunt of Cedar Rapids, Sean (Katie) Shea of Cedar Rapids and John (Katherine) Shea of Cedar Rapids; grandchildren, Christian, Brigette (Timothy), Hannah, Colin, Jackson, Chantelle (Ryan), Megan (David), Stacey, Micayla, Morgan, Michael, Emily, Anna, Brianna, Caitlin, Austin, Ava, Connor, Brady and Andrew; and great-grandchildren, Olivia, Julius, Braylon, Shea, Ryan, Keegan, Andre, April, Adrian and Phoenix.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Bridget; his parents, Michael and Elizabeth; step-mother, Stella; and his four adoring sisters, Maureen, Annamae, Katherine and Alice. It is comforting to think of them all together again.
The family would like to thank the amazing staff at Methwick's Arbor Place for their loving care of John.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to St. Jude's Catholic Church or Leukemia Lymphoma Society in John's memory.
Online condolences can be left at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.