Rudolph H. Jansa passed away on August 24 at the age of 91 at Community Hospice of Northeast Florida Fernandina Beach.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, June; his son Michael and his wife Gina and their son Coleman of Bossier City, Louisiana; his son John and his wife Cathy of Palos Heights, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents, his oldest son David, oldest sister Vera Little and twin sister Emily Trinka.
Rudy was born and raised in Detroit Michigan in 1925 where he attended Cass Tech High School. He served in the Navy during the Second World War as Machinist Mate, 1st class stationed at Midway Island. After an honorable discharge, he attended Michigan State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He always remained devoted to his alma mater, his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and maintained great dislike for the University of Michigan Wolverines.
His careers in the engineering field took him from serving as a test engineer for Packard Motor Company, to Curtis Wright, to Daimler Benz where he worked as a sales rep in their marine division. His time at Daimler Benz was spent in New York City where he met his soon to be wife, June, singing in the choir at the Park Avenue Methodist Church. At the age of 36, they married at that same church and moved back to Detroit where Rudy took a job with Perkins Engine Corporation as their General Manager of North American Operations.
In 1966, Rudy and his growing family moved to Peoria, Illinois where he worked for 21 years as OEM Sales Manager for Caterpillar. Following retirement, Rudy volunteered for the Citizens Democracy Corps (CDC) and International Executive Service Corp (IESC) where he used his marketing, sales, and engineering experience to foster business development in throughout Eastern Europe including: Poland, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Russia. His volunteer efforts exemplified his commitment to teaching others with hopes of seeing them grow and succeed.
Rudy was a proud Czech who spoke the language and loved the food, music and culture of his parent’s homeland. He travelled there beginning in the 1950s and helped maintain strong connections with his extended family. He had a gift for making connections to people in other parts of the world and extending his generosity to them for years to come. This included a high school foreign exchange student from Lyon, France who visited Rudy and his family 30 years ago. Frederic, his wife Dabia, and their children Lucas and Anissa remain members of the family to this day.
Rudy enjoyed Dvorak and Mozart, Spanish Guitar, and Big Band. He had an excellent poker face which he’d use to great effect when playing jokes on family and friends alike. If you were a server and asked him if he’d like anything else, he’d often reply with, “How about a 3-week vacation and a $100 raise?” He begrudgingly played golf but loved playing Hearts with his buddies, Rummy or Spades with anyone foolish to challenge him, and Rummikub or Uno with his family.
He visited Cuba when it was a glamorous getaway, fished in Baja, and walked among sequoias and castles. He fondly remembered air travel when your meals arrived on fine china with real silverware. Although a well seasoned traveler, he just as easily would enjoy early Saturday mornings at home on a back deck that he built himself.
He had a life filled with many more friends than enemies. He was loved by a family that grew far beyond his own blood line. He appreciated a good cigar, didn’t mind getting his hands dirty, and could strike up a conversation with anyone. He was a devoted husband and only asked that the people around him always try their very best. He will be missed.
Visitation will be held this Friday, August 27, from 5-7pm at Oxley Heard Funeral Home. A service will follow on Saturday at 11am at Memorial United Methodist Church. Interment will be at Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to Community Hospice Jane and Bill Warner Center for Caring in Fernandina Beach.