John Y. "Jack" Robertson
Jack passed peacefully at home in Boise, ID, early the morning of June 20, 2021, after a recurrent battle with prostate cancer that continued to spread.
How do you sum up a life so full, so complete, in only a
Jack would want it to be
simple, but nothing short of a book would do justice to the man.
His was the American Dream, rising from
little means; overcoming major challenges; leveraging intelligence, hard work
and discipline to achieve success in his educational, business, and financial
Jack Young Robertson was born November 29, 1931 in the midst
of the Depression to Jack and Thelma (Wickersham) Robertson in Oakland,
Jack graduated from Oakland High
School in 1949, but by his telling, was a disinterested and poor student,
lacking confidence in academics.
that college would be a lost cause, Jack joined the U.S. Navy.
It was in the Navy that Jack found his
The Navy provided discipline,
education, and opportunity.
constantly challenged and found that he was indeed a good student, could be
diligent in hitting the books, could succeed in learning and advancing through
His time aboard the USS Jason
outside Japan laid the foundation for many lifelong friendships and introduced
him early on to economic and financial principles that he would build upon for
the rest of his life.
four years in the Navy and was honorably discharged in 1953 with the rank of 1
Class Petty Officer.
Jack’s math aptitude, attention to detail and inherent
curiosity, coupled with his career success, naturally led him to becoming a
student of finances.
As with most things
that Jack would put his mind to, he quickly became adept in the financial and
real estate markets.
Jack parlayed this fiscal expertise, along with his native interest in software
and logic, into developing a financial planning application which he sold to
one of the major investment firms.
As Jack was assessing the next chapter in his life, he
looked around for a place that would provide both opportunity and a high
quality of life.
Boise rose to the top
in both respects, and in 1975 Jack re-settled to Idaho’s capital city.
There he found a well-established but
operationally-challenged business in Preco Electronics.
At this point in 1975, the business was
struggling financially when Preco’s owner, Ed Peterson, brought Jack in as the
President and Chief Executive Officer.
Jack quickly turned the business around, generating outstanding success
in the next few years to the extent that Ed and Jack took the whole company to
Disneyland in 1979.
Jack’s success with
Preco was consistent throughout his 21 years of leading the organization,
enabling the business to grow and expand, including the acquisition of Santa
Clara Plastics (SCP Global Technologies) in 1981 and the development of the
Morton, IL manufacturing facility.
his retirement from Preco in 1996, Jack continued to serve Preco on the board
of directors and in an advisory capacity until 2006.
In Boise, Jack found the love of his life, Betty Macek
Jack and Betty were married in
1979 in Boise.
Thus began a storybook
synergy that would see them travel the world (over 100 countries), enjoying
cruises to exotic locales, collecting a legion of friends along the way.
Betty introduced Jack to her Pennsylvania
family, and the Pittsburgh area became a favorite destination, generating stories
too numerous to tell, and even converting Jack into being a Steelers fan.
Betty was Jack’s rock, his soulmate, and his
life-partner, sharing his successes, building warm, welcoming retreats from the
business demands in Boise and McCall, as well as in their annual jaunt to the
Betty was the perfect
complement to Jack, fueling a wonderful marriage of 42 years.
Over the last five years, as Jack battled
often serious health issues, Betty was Jack’s care-giver and cheerleader, helping
him through the most difficult periods.
Jack’s career success is easy to describe; Jack himself,
so much more difficult, not because of any questions, but because his
character, his personality, his make-up was so broad, so deep, so multi-faceted,
Jack at heart was a humble,
He would be
embarrassed by the laudatory descriptions of him and his life.
He overcame a lack of confidence in himself
to achieve great things, but those who met him and did not know him were easily
engaged, brought into his world, he was more interested in you and your story
than boasting about his own exploits.
Jack had a gift for making you feel like you were the most important
person in his world right then and there, able to fully focus on you, who you
were and what you had to say at that moment in time.
It was not an act, it was real.
One person who met him for the first time,
but who knew of his accomplishments, described him aptly as “genuine.”
Jack was a leader, a mentor, a teacher.
The success of the Preco organization was
built upon the team that Jack developed and grew.
He was confident when he stepped down and
turned the reins over to Mark Peterson that the business would be in good hands
and continue to thrive because he and Mark had spent almost 10 years
Mark was every bit the student
that Jack was and inculcated and propagated the lessons readily.
Mark and these team members became not only
the core of a successful organization, but grew as individuals with Jack’s influence
How many people do you
know who maintain close relationships with their “boss” 25 years after having
stepped away from the business?
a mark of the esteem they had for Jack and what he had meant to them.
While certainly proud of what he had achieved in business
and in his personal pursuits, it was no secret that one of the things Jack
valued most was the success of one of his mentorees.
This role of mentor and teacher extended to
family and friends as well.
famous for his “money” talks, and would enthusiastically share them with nieces
and nephews, and children of cousins, friends and colleagues.
He was always encouraging, offering advice
and positive influence to those who were lucky enough to spend time with him.
“The life of the party” is how one friend described him
just recently after attending a birthday party of a mutual friend, with Jack amazingly
exhibiting this warmth as he was in steep decline from the cancer.
Jack could light up a room, keep you in stitches
with his jokes, keep you rapt with his magic and card tricks, or keep you
engaged, regaling you with story after story, many which had a parable-like
Jack loved to have fun, loved to
share that fun with you.
His and Betty’s
hospitality were legendary, and they welcomed many, many guests into their home.
And, while he would not describe himself as a
“gourmand”, he had a discerning palate for excellent wine, good food, and an occasional
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, the line goes.
Well, Jack did not waste his. A lifelong,
voracious learner, Jack was still learning new things up until a few days
before he passed.
He was inquisitive, asking
and digging until he could comprehend and absorb.
He loved to explore new technology and its
application in his life.
intrigued him, he would pursue it with the same gusto and exuberance that
ensured his success at whatever he attempted.
Well…, we may have to exclude golf from that list.
Jack never did quite get the hang of swinging
But, that didn’t stop him from
trying or from having a good time on the course with friends and family.
Jack made a lasting, positive mark upon many, many people
who were fortunate to know him.
his intelligence, his laughter, his mentoring, his kindness and caring will be
Our loss, however, is
The next rumble you hear
may not be peals of thunder but rather peals of laughter from Capt. Jack holding
Jack was pre-deceased by his parents and sister, Edna.
Jack is survived by his wife Betty, son John
of Pleasanton, CA; daughter Katy of Woodland, CA, and son Chuck Williams of San
A quiet aspect of Jack’s life, because Jack would not
talk about it, was his and Betty’s generosity.
Numerous charities, family members, employees, friends, and children of
relatives and friends were the recipients of support in time of need, to help
further their education or to help get established.
To that end, in lieu of flowers, the family
requests donations be made to the Boise Rescue Mission Ministry (“Helping
people help themselves”), P.O. Box 1494, Boise, ID
83701; or the Boise YMCA,
W State St, Boise, ID 83702
Special thanks to St. Luke’s Hospice, in particular to
Deanna Root and her associates, for such outstanding professional care; to
Tammy and Gilbert Walmer of C.A.R.E for their terrific attention and ready
assistance; and to dear friends Eric and Kim Hansen who have provided such key
support throughout Jack’s illness.
Per Jack’s wishes, there will be no service.
A memorial will be held at Idaho State Veteran’s
Cemetery at a future date.
Arrangements are through Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel and Crematory https://www.aldenwaggoner.com/