John Michael Smrekar, better known as Jack, died in Providence Medical Center, Portland, on May 25, ten days short of his 74th birthday from complications of lung and pancreatic cancer. Born in Chicago on June 4, 1939, to John Ralph Smrekar Jr. and Emma Bella Smrekar. He was raised on a family farm in Wisconsin and worked in the family restaurant until he graduated from Black River Falls High School in 1957. He earned a Music Education degree from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in 1962 and a Master in Music Education from the University of Iowa in 1970. In 1962, Jack taught at John Muir Jr. High School in Wausau, Wis., for 10 years. He began a 25-year career in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, teaching orchestra at all levels of elementary and high school, predominantly at Twality Middle school. He retired in 1998. Jack was active in multiple civic organizations: a bass singer in the Portland Gay Men's Chorus, a waiter/cook at Albertina Kerr's Restaurant, guide/mentor at The Portland Japanese Garden. He was active in Portland Cook Boys, the Portland Rosetown Ramblers and Portland Ikebana Chapter 47. Jack was an avid gardener, cook, singer and violist. He delighted in traveling all over the world, including most of Scandinavia, Europe, the Mediterranean, Egypt, South America, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. He was an active dancer, walker and hiker throughout the years until just before his cancer diagnosis. Jack was respected and loved by all. His dapper grooming and boundless energy matched his positive attitude and generosity of time and spirit. He was a loyal partner and friend. His home was always open to dinner guests and out-of-town or foreign visitors. His home was decorated with fresh flowers from his Japanese inspired garden. Jack was, and will continue to be, a teacher to all who knew him. He taught us how to behave, get along, enjoy life and literally stop and smell the roses. Jack is survived by his spouse and partner of six years, Zac Phillips; brothers, Tom and Dan; seven nieces and nephews; three Godchildren; and many devoted friends. His parents; and his brother, Dave, preceded him in death. A private Celebration of Life gathering will be held at Riverview Abbey Funeral Home, 319 Southwest Taylors Ferry Road, on Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m. Disposition was by cremation. In lieu of flowers, contributions are encouraged to: The Japanese Garden, The Portland Gay Men's Chorus, or Albertina Kerr Centers.
- The Oregonian (Portland, OR) Friday, 31 May 2013