John Thomas Rooney passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on September 6 . Born in rural Hansen, Nebraska on June 10, 1917, John later moved to Crawford, Nebraska where he helped with the family farm. Later, the family settled in Orin, Wyoming where John worked in the family-owned gas station, post office, and grocery store during the summers to help earn his way through college. The family later settled permanently in Casper, Wyoming. He graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 1939 with a degree in Forestry, and during college he also enlisted in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following his college graduation, he began active duty in the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. During his military career, John was awarded two Purple Hearts during combat-the first during WWII in the recapture of Guam and the second in the Korean War, near the Hwachon Reservoir. For his service in the Korean War, John was awarded the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military decoration for extraordinary heroism. He was promoted to Colonel in 1957. During his 27-year military career, John was stationed in Massachusetts, Virginia, Guam (where he was the Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks), and California. When John retired from the Marines in 1965, the family moved to Rossmoor, and he worked for the Long Beach Unified School District in an administrative position for ten years before completely retiring in 1976. In 2011, John moved to Sunrise Senior Living in Seal Beach, where he resided until his death.
After a two-month courtship, John married Lucinda Joy Van Meter in 1945, and they were blessed with four sons. John and Joy were happily married for 54 years before her passing in 1999. He was a family man who loved to take his sons camping and hiking to explore the wilderness, instilling in them an appreciation of nature. During their married life, John and Joy traveled extensively throughout the world. With their friends from the military and civilian life, they enjoyed dancing weekly at the Officers’ Club at the Long Beach Naval Station and with the Toppers Dance Club. John liked to dance yet complained about having “two left feet.” He also enjoyed working with his hands, whether it was woodworking or gardening. His sons especially appreciated his gifts of hand-made furniture and artisan clocks.
John is preceded in death by his son John Lawrence Rooney and his wife Joy. He is survived by his sons Thomas Rooney and his wife Barbara of Garden Grove, Donn Rooney and his wife Bonnie of Fresno, and Gregory Rooney of Costa Mesa. He is also survived by his two sisters, Lucille Pennock and Margaret Boehler of Lander, Wyoming. John leaves behind nine grandchildren and three great-grandsons.
Friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life at Westminster Memorial Park, 14801 Beach Blvd, Westminster, CA 92683, on Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 p.m. Colonel Rooney will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors (and, as requested, in his USMC dress blues) at a later date beside his wife Joy and their third son John L.
Remembrances can be made to either the Leukemia Society or to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, 825 College Blvd. Suite 102, PMB 609, Oceanside, CA 92057.