Jack Barrett Memorial Page
Jack Barrett 1928-2009
Jack Barrett passed away late Monday Night April 6, 2009
He suffered an apparent heart attack, and never regained consciousness.
His entire family were with him, and the hold this world had on him released him to God's care just before midnight.
All of us are glad knowing he is breathing easier and we appreciate all the wonderfully supportive words and deeds from family and friends already.
There was a public viewing Monday April 13, 2009 from 3-8 PM at the Taylor, Vollert & Jennings Funeral Home.
A memorial service was held at 11 AM Tuesday April 14 2009 at the same location at the intersection of highway 54 and Chestnut St in Wisconsin Rapids.
The following was put together by Arlene, Mike and Pat
Jack Barrett was born in Indianapolis in 1928. His family moved to upper MI in 1940, settling in Menominee MI in 1942. Jack Moved to Milwaukee in 1948, where he met Arlene Steger. That same year he was drafted and subsequently agreed to serve beginning 1951, but not before marrying Arlene. Their first two years as a married couple were spent apart. When Jack returned from Germany, they opened the Schoolhouse Tap in Lohrville WI. When they found Arlene was going to have their first child they sold the bar, and Jack took a job as manager at the Silvercryst Lodge in Wautoma until the end of 1959. They lived in Redgranite until 1964, when Jack and some associates started the Advertiser (now the Buyer's Guide), and Jack and Arlene moved to Wisconsin Rapids.
Jack Left the Advertiser in 1968 and attended the Reisch College of Auctioneering. Their first sale was April 13 1969 in a rented old tractor repair facility. More than 2,000 sales later, Jack has left a legacy carried on by Arlene Mike and Pat.
Jack became a race fan after striking up a friendship with Dick Trickle in the 1960s. Jack not soon after began working at several area race tracks, as a scorer and announcer. Even into his later years, Jack spent many weekends at the tracks his sons worked, telling anyone in earshot he was the dad of Patrick the flagman, and/or the announcer (Mike).
I will begin a long string of thank-yous to Father Dale Grubba, another fellow race fan, who has consented to officiate a memorial service for Jack. Thank father Dale! Jack always lit up when he saw you were attending a race, and made sure he got to speak to you when he could. His respect for you was always obvious and heartfelt.
Jack was not a healthy child. He was born prematurely and suffered stomach trouble his entire life. None of that seemed to matter because everyone who knew Jack also knew he had lots of energy. He had a terrible tendon injury while working as a logger and nearly lost a leg. His left leg was shortened as a result, and he wore shoe lifts to compensate for titanium links that repaired his tendon.
Jack was a “talker”. He had the gift of gab, and his years as a car salesman and auctioneer were well served by that gift. He loved telling jokes, often enjoying the joke so much while he was telling it that he had to stop and laugh. Everyone he knew got a new nickname from Jack. Mike and Pat probably had at least a dozen each. Ladies with difficult to remember names would become simply “Mabel”, “Alice”, etc to Jack. His pets in the past were spoiled, and Jack took their passing as hard as anyone. His mother was a born worrying sort, and Jack inherited some of that. He spent many restless nights up late listening for his 2 boys to come home when they were of age to drive and carouse about until the early morning hours.
Jack had a very strong personality, but there was one stronger; his wife Arlene. He may have been able to bluster and bravado his way through many conversations, but when Arlene was in conflict with him, he would simply say, “ok” more often than not.
Jack was a picky eater. Fish was seldom on his plate, and vegetables were often pushed around instead of eaten. Once Arlene made Pasta Alfredo as a change of pace, telling us it was “something different”. The dish looked vibrant, and Mike and Pat had no trouble digging in. When Jack asked Arlene what it was, she simply said “Pasta Alfredo”. Jack’s response was as plaintive as a 4 year-old; “but where’s the MEAT? How can I eat it if there’s no MEAT??” Jack was a cautious driver, but a terrible passenger, a nervous flyer, and absolutely refused to go on carnival rides, high buildings or roller coasters. The last movie he saw in a theater was JAWS in 1976, although he recalled King Kong as the scariest thing he had ever seen as a child. After he got out of the army, Jack HATED standing in line or waiting for any kind of service. He felt all the long hours spent in line in the service were enough, and the rest of his life he spent strolling to the front no matter where he was. Service people were treated to the brusque version of Jack, but he would tip well if they were able to get things done to his liking. When Jack moved to Wisconsin Rapids one of the first people he met was Dick Trickle. They sat many nights sharing stories, beer, and probably more than a few sideways glances at ladies. Their shared circle of friends included many area racers and mechanics, and Jack followed that circle to area tracks where he ended up as a scorer and announcer at many events. He loved the action and he relished the camaraderie he had with the drivers and fans. His one ride at a racetrack with a driver was with none other than Trickle at Griffith Park in the 60’s, and the full-throttle, almost sideways every lap treatment was too much for Jack. He said it was “the last time I EVER ride with him!” Jack had a shot a driving in a race one time. There was an business man’s race at Griffith Park and he was given a peach colored Dodge weighing about 7,000 lbs. The green flag came out and he put it to the floor…top speed for that machine was about 35 MPH. Jack was disappointed to say the least and numerous laps down at the end. “NO MORE OF THAT B.S.!!” were his words.
His sons also took a liking to the sport and they traveled to many events such as Daytona, Odessa, Mo., Milwaukee, Slinger, the Minnesota State Fair and of course all of the local tracks. He would let all of the spectators around him know that “he was Trickle’s best buddy” and biggest fan. He liked all of the drivers but he thought Dick was the best there ever was! When his boys became officials at various tracks and series he was the proudest man there pointing out to anyone near that “the announcer is my son and so is the flagman”. Racing was the sport he loved the best, no doubt about it.
The auction business was his pride and joy as well as his living for his family. Jack & Arlene took a chance on an old tractor repair shop in Wisconsin Rapids and had their first sale on April 13, 1969. The total sale was less than $500, not much for 5 months preparation. The sales would increase and so would his reputation as a great salesman and fast talker. He made hundreds of friends, many of which have come and gone. Minnow & Dorothy Moll, Jack Whetstone, Norm Saeger, Angela Smith and many others helped Jack & Arlene with their fledgling business. Soon they were having auctions on a regular basis with one rare stretch back in the 1980’s where they held 7 auctions in a 10-day period. Jack was the front man and Arlene handled the money, it worked very well that way and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He made the crowd laugh on many occasions he modeled ladies hats, weird glasses or anything else he could get a chuckle from. But most of the time he was all business asking anyone who spoke too loud, “quiet down” he would roar. He encouraged his two sons to go to auction school and they both did, becoming professional auctioneers to carry on the business for years to come. Jack was involved in a staggering amount of sales in 39 years, over 2300 since 1969. He loved the action and the hard work never seemed to bother him. He did encourage many people to sell items inside the auction center…”you can’t have outside auctions in Wisconsin, it’s either to hot, too cold, raining or snowing,” he would declare. Until his passing he looked forward to seeing the photos on his lap top computer of the upcoming auction items each week and then would hound Arlene about the details of the prices certain items brought. It was in his blood and he was proud of what he built.
Jack was very generous to his family. Not only after a successful auction or sale would he divide the profits but he would also venture out to the casino to play his favorite slot machine and do the same if he won. He had his share of luck and would always hand out winnings to his family if he hit a nice payout.
Jack Barrett came from very humble beginnings in Indianapolis but died a very proud and successful man in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.