John William “Jack” Quatman, Jr., 29
Our kind, compassionate, brilliant, and hilarious son, Jack, took his life on July 19th. He leaves behind his adoring parents, Jack and Phyllis Quatman, sister, Lyndsey Quatman Marshall (Justin), and their beautiful little boys, Jed and Blaine Marshall, who called Jack “Nana,” a name he cherished as much as he cherished them.
Jack was born in Walnut Creek, California on February 10, 1989, almost exactly five years after his sister. He was the son and brother we’d prayed for. He lived in Moraga, California until he was eight, when our family moved to Whitefish for a calmer, safer, and more peaceful life together. We found that and more.
In Whitefish, Jack immediately made many friends who remain his wingmen and women even today. He attended Muldown, Central, and Whitefish High, graduating in 2007. His adventures in high school are still coming to light, and as his parents, we are glad we didn’t know the half of it back then! Yet, he had fun and shared so much with his dear compadres, including dark times along with joy. Jack left for helicopter flight school after finishing high school, first in Hawaii and then in Panama. He completed his flight training, instrument rating, and instructor’s rating. Flying was his passion in life, following in the footsteps of his Uncle Denny and Grandfather Moore. He became bilingual in Spanish while he lived in Panama. Eventually he completed all but one class at the University of Montana (with semesters at Arizona State) for his BA in Spanish Literature. During his life Jack traveled the world, studied at Oxford University in England, drank excellent wine in France, and explored so many places in South America and Mexico. He believed that visiting other cultures grew compassion and connectedness among all people in this world. He read constantly, classics from William Faulkner and Hemingway to tomes on astrophysics. Politics were another great passion.
Everyone who knew Jack uses the same adjectives to describe him: kind, genuine, compassionate, the smartest person they ever met, the funniest and wittiest person they ever met, thoughtful, caring, and empathetic. He loved his nephews and all kiddos, including the Snipes girls, especially Elsie. He always showed up with a gift whenever he visited his friends, always brought M&Ms for their little ones and a cheap bottle of wine or flowers for the adults.
When Jack was in junior high, we sponsored a Japanese exchange student, Kenji. Kenji arrived with a two word English vocabulary (“beer” and “hotdog”), so Jack peddled to BookWorks and bought an English to Japanese dictionary. He spoke to Kenji slowly through that translation tool, biked with Kenji all over Whitefish, and with Jack Sr, took him to the racetrack so Kenji could experience car racing, hotdogs, and beer. When Kenji left, he named Jack “Big Heart.” That sums up our Jack.
Jack, like so many, suffered from depression. Recently a family friend, Barb Monty, who has bipolar disorder, told Jack how hard it is to be a unicorn in a world that doesn’t believe unicorns exist, that they were in a lonely place. Jack, who never believed he fit in, asked her if she minded being a unicorn. She told him no, that she’d never fit in anywhere and didn’t want to fit in. He laughed and asked her where unicorns ever fit in and she said, “In the moonlight beneath the stars.” Jack always wanted to fit in. It is our prayer and hope that he is in that magical place. As we grieve, we must look to the sky, to the universe, and understand he could no longer stay with us here on earth. But as he said in the note he left, he is content now and is in a better place.
Of course, he wanted his possessions to go to charity and wanted no service. However, Jack converted to Judaism in 2010 and believed in God and an afterlife. In his honor, we invite all who knew him and loved him to a gathering at our home, 150 Johns Way in Whitefish, on August 4th between 1-4 pm. Rabbi Allen Secher will lead us in stories and prayer at 2 pm and give everyone who wishes a chance to share their memories of Jack.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that you contribute to Jack’s Scholarship fund, to be set up this week at Glacier Bank in Whitefish, with all proceeds used to send high school students overseas as foreign exchange students. Additionally, please contribute to Sparrow’s Nest here in Whitefish that provides homeless high school students food, clothing and shelter so they can graduate. Jack also loved animals and would welcome donations to the animal shelter or humane society. Even better, adopt a critter in his honor. And he would also want you to vote, this fall and in every election.
To our beautiful son, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend, all of us left behind bid you farewell. Wait for us, Jacksoni, in the moonlight beneath the stars.