John (Jack) Emmet Mendel

Saturday, June 29, 2019
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John (Jack) Emmet Mendel passed away June 5, 2019.

He was born June 30, 1926 in Lewistown, Montana to Lewis Emmet Mendel and Florence Josephine Fogarty. The Mendel family had seven children, in addition to John. Six siblings survive John: Thomas Mendel, Kempner, Texas; Florence Kettering and Mary Mendel, Lewistown; Martin Mendel, Helena; Edward Mendel, Sacramento, California; Kathy Mendel Phillips (Dwight), Bozeman. One sibling, Bill Mendel, preceded John in death.

John joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 and served from 1944-1946 as an Electronic Technicians Mate on a minesweeper, the U.S.S. Pickett, on the waters between Korea and Japan. The GI Bill allowed John to obtain a B.S. in chemistry in 1950 at Montana State College (University). His continuing education included graduate courses in nuclear chemistry, chemical thermodynamics, advanced inorganic chemistry, crystallography, electro-chemistry and advanced chemical analysis, all at the Joint Center for Graduate Study, Richland, Washington.

John joined the General Electric Company at Hanford in 1951 and transferred in 1965 to Battelle-Northwest in January, 1965 and a year (1971-72) with Westinghouse Hanford Company, all at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Tri-Cities, Washington. Throughout his career, he was involved in testing the handling and behavior of uranium, plutonium and radioactive fission products as part of the environmental impact assessment of nuclear waste solidification at Hanford.

John retired in 1992.

John was married to Charlotte Orwig Mishima in 1968 and was stepfather to her two children, Mark Mishima (Spokane, Washington) and Mariann Mishima (Mead, Washington). He and Charlotte had two children together, Nathan (Nate) Mendel, Studio City, California and Johanna (Jody) Mendel, Spokane. From the four children, there are nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Charlotte passed away Feb. 28, 1996 and John believed he would be single for the remainder of his life…until he met Judy Grollmus in 1999. They were married in 2002, adding two stepchildren, Julie Gruber, San Mateo, California, and John Grollmus, Post Falls, Idaho and two more grandchildren to his family.

John was a quiet man who had little interest in talking about himself and was reticent to do so, but who, if you gave him a chance to speak, was an engaging gentleman who was most interested in the world and spoke with wisdom and reflection. He embodied the interconnection of art and science. Painting and drawing as a young man, setting that passion aside during his career in nuclear chemistry, and then, as long promised, reigniting his artwork immediately upon retirement.

His mediums included sculpture, paper mâché, watercolor, acrylics, and printmaking. John thoroughly enjoyed musical performances and the Spokane String Quartet in particular. He was an avid gardener, once saying to Judy as they surveyed a neglected backyard in their new house: “We shall attack it with great exuberance.”

A memorial service will be held at Rockwood Retirement Community’s Event Center on July 23, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Salvation Army or the Spokane Chamber Music Association would be welcomed.