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John J. Hlavacek

Cedar Rapids

John J. Hlavacek, 89, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died Sunday, April 21, 2019, at Willow Gardens Care Center in Marion, Iowa. A private family burial will take place at Linwood Cemetery in Cedar Rapids at a later date. Murdoch-Linwood Funeral Home & Cremation Service assisted with the arrangements.
John was born Sept. 9, 1929, in a farmhouse outside Conroy, Iowa, only child of John Andrew and Eleanor Marie (Zach) Hlavacek. He learned to speak English when he attended first grade, having spoken only Czech until that point. He had a wonderful childhood with loving parents. He attended Wilson High School, where he played varsity football, among other sports.
John played football on a scholarship and studied biology at the University of Iowa for two years. His college studies were interrupted by his service to his country in the Korea conflict where he was a cook, making sure his troops were well fed. John continued his education and football career at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, graduating with a B.S. degree in biology.
After college, he worked as a fish biologist for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. He started in Guttenburg, Iowa, where he met and married Mary Lee Kords. Five children were born of this union. He worked at and managed fish hatcheries in Iowa, Wisconsin, Alabama, Michigan and Nebraska.
He retired from the Fish and Wildlife service in 1980, and took a job as a hatchery manager at the Tonto Creek State Fish Hatchery in Payson, Ariz. He and Mary subsequently divorced. He worked there until he moved back to Cedar Rapids to care for his aging parents.
Shortly after returning to Cedar Rapids, he met an old friend, Mary Joyce Miller. They spent the rest of his life together. He loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren the same as his biological children.
John was a loving, outgoing, fun, friendly, kind and loyal man. He had a way of making people know they were welcome and valued, and that he cared about them. He was an outstanding athlete who excelled in his high school and college years playing football for the University of Iowa and Coe College. He also loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter and fisherman, sharing those passions with his children and grandchildren when he could. He loved to tease, laugh, remember fun times, and made every visit special with his sense of humor and special smile with a twinkle in his eye. He loved his family and friends as well and will be missed.
John is survived by his partner and love of his life, Mary Joyce Miller. He also is survived by John (Stacy) Hlavacek, Diane (Kurt) Moore, Joseph (Bobbi-Jo) Hlavacek, Mary (Stuart) Frank, Jayne (Jeff) Crabdree and Shelley (Gary) Sweet; grandchildren, Mandy, Jacob, Brad, Tyler, Caleb, Isaac, Andrew, Wytnee, Ellen, William, Jason, Travis, Chelsea,and Lindsey and their spouses and significant others; and 18 great-grandchildren.
John was preceded in death by his parents.
The family would like to thank the staff at Willow Gardens for their compassionate care given to John.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund at programs.iowadnr.gov/donations/Donation/Add/1 and Cedar Valley Humane Society.
Please share a memory of John at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under obituaries.
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