John R. ‘Jack’ Minton

John R. ‘Jack’ MintonJohn Robert “Jack” Minton, a longtime resident of Ridgecrest, died in an automobile accident Nov. 29, 2019. He was 85.

Jack was born Oct. 31, 1934, to Delmar and Maxine (Scheimer) Minton of Willows. Jack attended the University of Santa Clara and majored in engineering for two semesters, then attended Chico State University, continuing his engineering studies for two semesters. He went on to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to pursue his passion for design and illustration, majoring in industrial design and graduating in 1957.

In 1967 he began his career as a civilian employee at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, the same year it was established. There he worked for Alma Koch at the China Lake Propulsion Laboratory, and later advanced to be a master at planning programs and projects for technical teams. He spent nearly 50 years in the CLPL area, where he guided planning on many key successful projects, finally retiring in 2016. Soon thereafter, Jack returned as a support contractor (now SALEEX), to continue providing planning support at a very active time for the CLPL area and the base.

Jack continued this support until his passing. Of particular note is the mentoring Jack extended toward the younger professionals at China Lake. Many of the past and emergent leaders who passed through the CLPL area gained significant project planning expertise through working with Jack. He made major contributions to the China Lake mission and will be sorely missed by his colleagues.

It would be difficult to name a more social, “count me in” guy than Jack. He was the “go-to” car guy, and overall supporter of many community events. He could always be counted on to bring one or more of his cars to any car show, event or parade and he never said no. He had a heart of gold and was the first person to check on a friend in need. He did this very quietly and never expected recognition for his good deeds. His absence will leave a void not easily filled.

Jack had a passion for cars that began at an early age, when he made drawings and wooden models of his favorites. His admiration for design and fine craftsmanship formed the foundation for what would become a lifelong hobby of collecting, restoring and maintaining a fleet of American classic cars. Though he had a deep admiration for the coach-built cars of the prewar era, he was forever a fan of the 1940s-1950s Buicks of his youth.

He also developed a love for music early on, attending the Saturday matinees, then heading home to pick out his favorite tunes on the piano. Though he received some instruction on playing chords from the church organist, Jack was largely self-taught. He would play by ear and practice until he was able to master his favorite pieces from George Gershwin and Scott Joplin.

Jack was preceded in death by his father, Delmar, and mother, Maxine. He is survived by his sisters, Dolores Minton of Lincoln and her daughters, Catherine Schiappa and Marcie Ostendorf; and Joan Rae Ruehle of Eureka Springs, Ark., and her children, Patrick, Kevin, Matthew, William and Catherine.

A celebration of Jack’s life will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m. at the Ridgecrest BPO Elks Lodge. His family and friends are working on establishing a fund for donations that will benefit the community in his name; details will be forthcoming.

Jack will be laid to rest in the family plot at the Willows Cemetery in a private ceremony.

— Submitted by the family of Jack Minton

Story First Published: 2020-01-31