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Jack's Story

Submitted by Jari Lynn Oncken - April 15, 2010

Jack Jochums is truly a native son of Minonk. He has been an active member of the community and the First Baptist Church where his parents Louis and Ruth Schneider Jochums and grandparents John T. and Tatje Claussen Jochums were members.

Jack's Grandpa Jochums was born on April 20, 1848 and raised in East Friesland, Germany where he was a soldier and farmer. On June 25, 1873 he married Tatje Claussen and in 1875 they came to America. Ten of their sixteen children died in infancy. The surviving children included George, Joseph, Henry, Louis, Rev. Benjamin Jochums and older sister Mary Jochums Smith. While in Germany John was a member of the Methodist Church. When the couple settled near, and later in Minonk they united with the Minonk German Baptist Church and were active members until it dissolved in 1911. They joined the First Baptist Church on September 3, 1911. In John's obituary it said that "he was an earnest and faithful worker" and that "his zeal for his Savior was recognized by his brethren who elected him a deacon for life".

Jack's dad was a carpenter employed by contractor John Kettwich and in later years he worked for the Minonk Dairy. While describing his dad Jack mentioned three fine qualities that he possessed. He was a hard worker, a deeply spiritual man and a devoted father. On November 24, 1912 Louis was baptized by Rev. J.C. Oranger and became an active member of the First Baptist Church. When he was a young man he attended the Moody Bible Institute. This Bible instruction surely enhanced his teaching of his High School Boys Sunday School class and Adult Class. Louis was also the Sunday School superintendent, a deacon and a trustee for many years. When Jack was a boy he enjoyed going with his dad to the Wednesday night prayer meetings where they would join Gerald Hanna, Bill Rooker, Fred Parks and others.

Jack's mother, who had a quiet spirituality, was baptized in the First Baptist Church on April 6, 1913 with her sisters Rachel and Maud Schneider. Ruth's two other sisters Mina and Esther and brother Don were also church members.
The Louis Jochums family which also includes Jack's two sisters Shirely Jochums Zivney and June Jochums Bell regularly attended Sunday School and church. If there was an activity going on at church their family would be there. Sunday afternoons were reserved for trips to various relatives' homes for visiting and shared suppers.

When Jack was young he delivered the Pantagraph, swept floors and washed windows at the Gay Day Dress Shop and worked at the Minonk Dairy. He graduated from Minonk - Dana High School in 1954 and enrolled at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, Illinois. After his first year at ISNU he was called home when his dad became ill. During this time he worked for Ulrich's in Roanoke and General Telephone.

In the Fall of 1959 he resumed his studies at ISNU and graduated in 1962. He began teaching social studies and physical education and coaching all sports at Minonk - Dana - Rutland High School. Then in 1969 he received his Masters in Guidance and became the high school's first guidance counselor. Jack retired from teaching in the Spring of 1983.

On February 14, 1957 Jack married Joan Janssen, a local girl and daughter of Elron and Doris Janssen. Joan was a member of the Minonk Immanuel Lutheran Church until September 14, 1958 when she was baptized and became a member of the First Baptist Church. She worked for the Minonk Dairy and later opened the Shape Up Shop in Minonk. After the death of her father Elron, Joan and Jack helped with the operation of his business, Minonk Bowling Lanes, until it was sold. Their family grew to include sons Jay and Joel and later Jay's wife Terri and children Julia, Grant and Alexa.

In 1980 Jack began working for Emerson Janssen, an agent for Woodford County Mutual Insurance. In 1981 he purchased the agency. He served as a board member for Woodford County Mutual Insurance for 23 years. Then two years later in the Fall of 1983 Jack began selling insurance with Bill Havener at the Havener-Jochums Agency. In 1990 the agency merged with the Morrison Agency and became the Meyer-Jochums Agency. Joan, Jay and Joel also work at the agency.

Jack's family and church influenced the growth of his spiritual life. At the age of twelve he accepted the Lord and was baptized by Rev. Kennell on April 21, 1946. Jack enjoyed participating in the Baptist youth group under the leadership of Mary Boyer and singing in the church choir as he does today.
Over the years Jack has served on many committees. He has taught the Junior & Senior High Sunday School classes, worked with the youth groups and still continues to teach the adult class. Many people have had the pleasure of listening to Jack sing solos in church, the Village-Aires and at weddings and funerals.

Jack enjoys helping with the young people at the Wednesday Night Connections and Dare2Share. He feels that he has been blessed to have the opportunity of working with people of all age groups and seeing them grow spiritually.

Recorded by Historian Jari Lynn Oncken