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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew John Lockwood would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He worked hard in everything he did, committed to providing an amazing life for his family. John was blessed to share nearly 60 years of his life with his wife and best friend, and together they welcomed children and grandchildren into their lives. Life wasn’t without times of trial for him, but he faced whatever came his way with strength and courage. Life will never be the same without John here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his memory.
The 1920s-or the “Roaring Twenties”, as they were called-were an exciting time in America. Jazz music, automobiles, and motion pictures were among the new threads woven into our cultural fabric during this time. It was also during this exciting time that Carl and Mary (O’Connor) Lockwood experienced some excitement in their lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named John O’Connor on October 24, 1921 in Cleveland, OH. The family moved to Detroit in 1928, and they lived in six different houses on Dexter Boulevard throughout the Great Depression and then Prohibition .John’s father worked as a roofer while his mother was a homemaker. They found fun where they could, frequently going to Belle Isle for picnics since they didn’t have the money to do anything more. John also enjoyed ice skating with his dad at Northwestern High in Detroit. John walked to and from school, and he often slipped into the backdoor of a theatre on Grand Boulevard that he walked past so he could listen to them sing and perform. During Prohibition, the neighbor across the street converted their basement into a Speakeasy, so John often went over there to watch the adults misbehave with his friends.
As a young man John was eager for all that life had in store. He graduated from University of Detroit High School in 1940 and enlisted into the Army Air Corps (now commonly known as the Air Force) in November of 1942. He went to basic training in Texas, and while en- route to his airbase China they took trains across India, stopped in Burma at a base with British soldiers, and John ended up playing volleyball with Prince Phillip from Great Britain one summer afternoon!
John was a photographer and “waist” gunner on a B-24 bomber that flew missions out of China to bomb Japan. After being discharged in September of 1945, John learned and worked for architectural drafting and design firm in Detroit. Eventually, he met some prominent Detroit businessmen who asked him to go and open and manage an Amana appliance store in Grand Rapids, MI.
Life was forever changed for John when he met the woman who would forever hold the key to his heart while attending an engagement party. They began dating and later fell in love. Eager to build a life together, John and Lauma were married on May 20, 1961. The newlyweds then enjoyed a honeymoon to Washington, D.C. and returned home to begin their new life together. Although they were deeply saddened with the death of their newborn son, Jeffrey, John and Lauma were later filled with great joy as they welcomed their daughter, Susan Annette, into their hearts and home in 1963. Their family was later completed with the adoption of their son, Douglas Gregg, in 1969. John continued to work hard to support his family. He eventually began to do design work for NuCraft Furniture and graphic design for Lear Siegler. For the last 20 years of his career or so, he owned a marketing firm where he provided ideas for planning and support for grocery and retail. Among his clients were brands like Miller, 7-Up, and Kenner Toys. This was a great fit for him as John was a very social person who could talk with anyone.
Although he worked hard, John made the time to enjoy life, too. He loved traveling all over the country, taking the family to places like Hilton Head, SC, Williamsburg, VA, St. Augustine and Sanibel Island in Florida, and countless other locales up and down the Eastern Seaboard, many trips being driven to in the family station wagon with Dad at the helm. He and Lauma loved spending time up in the Traverse City area, though, above most any other trips and vacations. So after retiring in 1991, they bought a condo in Traverse City and moved there, where they met and kept a great group of friends, many musicians and artists (like John). John had started painting with oils early in life and once he moved to Northern Michigan, he self taught himself watercolor painting, often doing various scenes from outdoors like barns, flowers, fish, and streams, which were sold in area galleries and still hang in some businesses and libraries in both Northern and Western Michigan. He was also an avid reader, and preferred reading historical non-fiction books about political figures. And like many individuals of his generation, he enjoyed watching the Lawrence Welk Show. John loved a good steak- or anything Lauma cooked, as she was quite the culinarian, cooking him anything from Shrimp Creole to one of his favorites, “South of the Border Casserole”. Later in life, John had a bit of a “thing” for McDonald’s cheeseburger and chocolate milkshakes, which became his go to when asked what he wanted to eat when he was taken out to a meal by family. He actually had quite a sweet tooth as well with butter pecan ice cream, mini Snickers bars, or any type of dessert being among his favorites. When Doug took him to Ruth’s Chris for a steak on his 97th birthday just a few weeks prior to his death, it was “one of the best meals John had ever had”.
The family was given a tough pill to swallow with their daughter Susan’s death from cancer in 2009. Both John and Lauma continued to draw strength and love from their family during the days and years that followed. John had a special bond with his grandson, Lance, because he was talking about getting into engineering and drafting- and shared an artistic eye with his granddaughter Sienna and daughter in law Tanya.
Just two months ago in October, when his companion of over half a century experienced a debilitating stroke, John moved to Grand Rapids to help Doug oversee her care and final days. On October 21, he was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved wife. Only 4 days after her memorial service, John fell and broke his hip, and after surgery, experienced multiple complications with his heart and other organs, and ultimately decided to go join his wife, daughter, and family members that had preceded him in death.
Charming, hardworking, and deeply devoted to his loved ones, John Lockwood was a blessing in the lives of so many. He enjoyed so many things throughout his life, but nothing was better than sharing these experiences with the ones he loved most. Deeply cherished, John will be forever missed.
LOCKWOOD – John O’Connor Lockwood age 97, a former resident of Grand Rapids and Traverse City, passed away on November 21, 2018. John was born in Cleveland, OH, to Mary Grace O’Connor and Carl Wilder Lockwood on October 24, 1921. The family moved to Detroit, MI in 1928. He graduated from University of Detroit High School in 1940 and joined the Air Force on November 4, 1942. He served with the 14th Air Force in the China Theater as a combat crew member on B 24’s. He was honorably discharged from service in September, 1945. In Detroit, he was involved in learning about and working in architectural and graphic art for several years. In 1951, he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to pursue the same interests in his career. Before retiring in the late 80’s, he owned his own marketing firm. In 1961, John married Lauma Silenieks. After John’s retirement they moved to the Traverse City area, which had been their favorite place for family vacations over the years. John became a member of the Traverse City Art Center and enjoyed doing water colors. He was preceded in death by Lauma, his wife of 57 years; son, Jeffrey Michael; daughter, Susan Annette; and several beloved dogs. John is survived by his son, Douglas Gregg (Tanya) Lockwood of Walker, MI and two cherished grandchildren, Sienna and Lance. A gathering of family and friends will take place from 6-8 PM on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Those who so desire may honor John’s memory with a contribution to the Humane Society of their choice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read John’s lifestory, leave a memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook.