WATERTOWN, NY — H. Jack VanBrocklin left this world behind on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. He was exactly one month shy of his 93rd birthday.
For over 45 years, Jack resided at the family homestead that he helped establish at 23043 County Route 67, otherwise known as Brookside Drive. During the last few years he was well-cared for in the home of his loving and loud daughter Kate, her deeply supportive husband Michael, and three giving and kind grandchildren, Kathryn, Livia, and Jack with whom he forged unbreakable bonds through laughter and sarcasm.
Declared the title of Greatest Father/Grandfather in the World, Jack is survived by two sons John (Carolyn), Watertown, Timothy (Margie), Williston, VT, two daughters Julia (Gordon) Grigg and Kate (Michael) Harrienger, both of Watertown; grandchildren Joshua VanBrocklin, Jodie Delaney, Christopher and Shawn VanBrocklin, Jeffrey Berkman, Jessica Demarse, Brett Berkman, Kathryn, Livia and Jack Harrienger; two step-grandchildren, Jacob and Emma Grigg; nine great grandchildren; a brother Rick VanBrocklin, Oswego; nieces and nephews. Besides his wife and parents, he was welcomed by a grandson Michael Paul Berkman, a great-grandson Riley VanBrocklin, his sister Tara Bickley and a brother A. Bruce VanBrocklin, his brother in-law and sister in-law, Bill and Joanne Stone, and many other friends and family who we know are looking over us.
Jack’s life adventure began during a blizzard after his mother rode in a horse-drawn sleigh to the hospital in Watertown, NY, on Dec. 27, 1929. He is a son of George Arnold and Doris Bartram VanBrocklin. He was a graduate of Watertown High School where he lettered in baseball and basketball, continuing to play basketball in the Boarder League after graduation.
He married Kay Marie Stone on June 25, 1949, after a courtship that actually began in kindergarten where they first met. Mrs. VanBrocklin died Dec. 21, 2000.
Jack grew up on various large farms in the area, working as a young boy alongside his grandparents and family and he has said that this time period was one of the happiest of his life, being the simplest. He was employed by the local A&P grocery store through high school and then after getting married, he worked for the City of Watertown as a filtration plant operator, retiring after 34 years of dedicated service.
An active man until the end, Mr. VanBrocklin was a Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball coach. He rarely missed a single soccer, lacrosse, basketball, or hockey game or track meet of his children or grandchildren, and was known to watch stock-car racing by his son and grandson with his back to the track due to the stress. Both Jack and Kay were active in various activities including co-ed bowling leagues and playing cards with family and friends. Jack was also pretty much accepting of any strays that were brought home- whether they were animals or people- a trait that subsequently was inherited by his entire family.
The couple saved and took (tolerated) many family trips together, even with some of their children suffering extreme motion sickness. They later established a tradition of annually traveling to Myrtle Beach, eventually revealing their location to other family members who subsequently joined them, a tradition that has continued for four generations now. Jack and Kay had a wide-range of interests and enjoyed sporting events and theatres in both NYC and Toronto; Jack advocating for the sporting events and Kay the theatre (although they both enjoyed being with each other most). Family above all is what mattered most for Jack. He was so proud of everyone and amazed by the accomplishments we all achieved while just striving to be what he knew we could be. He has left us with a deep sense of loss which cannot be filled, but moreso with the best memories and the knowledge and comfort that he loved us beyond measure. Without a doubt, we are ALL his favorite. His last words of advice are to “Live life, enjoy yourselves, have adventures, and love each other.”
Graveside services will be held at the convenience of the family in Brookside Cemetery.
Arrangements are with the Reed & Benoit Funeral Home.
Condolences may be made to www.reedbenoit.com.
It is asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Kay S. VanBrocklin Memorial Fund, c/o Watertown Savings Bank, 111 Clinton St., Watertown, NY 13601, because it will help younger generations and is absolutely what our special man would want.