.John Joseph Hudecek, 81, of Columbus, died Monday, April 28, 2014, at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Born March 27, 1933, in Lipov, Czechoslovakia, John was a former Russian, Latin and English teacher at Columbus North High School for 28 years. At the former Columbus High School, he reveled in leading the Men's Cheer Block. He retired from teaching in 1992 and did handyman work until last year. Early in his career, John helped launch Bar-Cons Federal Credit Union and served on the negotiations committee of the Columbus Education Association.
A stalwart in the regional Catholic community, John was a former Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus, Council 1414, and participated in planning the construction of the K of C hall. A member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, he also helped start K of C Council 15102 in Edinburgh.
John was an avid gardener, golfer, Indy Racing League fan and member of the Czech and Slovak Society of Indiana. He also belonged to the Columbus chapters of the Loyal Order of Moose, and the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks. For decades he eagerly helped Santa Claus spread Christmas cheer. John most enjoyed spending time with his adored family and extended circle of friends. His door and heart were always open. As an immigrant himself, he especially extended hospitality to visitors from foreign countries and proudly worked for years on Ethnic Expo.
John emigrated to the United States with his parents and brother, Martin, less than a year before Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. They settled in a Czech farming community near Protivin, Iowa. As the oldest of four sons, John followed the Eastern European tradition of entering religious studies at St. Procopius Seminary at Benedictine College in Lisle, Ill.
He decided after two years to transfer to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in education. His early teaching career was spent in Cresco and Charles City, Iowa. During the age of Sputnik, John landed a National Defense Education grant to study Russian and earned a Master of Arts for Teachers from Indiana University.He continued his Russian studies in Moscow in the summer of 1969 and took a group of students to the former Soviet Union a few years later. In 1971 he and his wife, MaryAnn, purchased a flower shop they named Flowers by MaryAnn. After selling the business, he continued to help out at the shop on Keller Avenue where MaryAnn stayed on as a floral designer. John is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 57 years, Mary Ann (DeWalle); two sons, Ed (Cindy) of Columbus, and Eric (Kim Shipley), of Indianapolis; two daughters, Karla (Malcolm Moran) of Zionsville, and Kellie (Mark) Gallerani of Greensboro, N.C.; grandchildren Kristen (Rick) Sparks, and Michael Hudecek of Columbus, Allison Gallerani of New York City, Ryan, Anna and Erica Gallerani of Greensboro, N.C., Katie and T.J. Moran of Zionsville; and great-grandaughters Mary and Frances Sparks of Columbus.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary (Pokornikova); two brothers Martin and Frank; in-laws Orvie and Helen DeWalle; sister-in-law Marlene Riha; brother-in-law Steve DeWalle, and grand-nephew Elliott Marlowe DeWalle.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Myers-Reed Chapel. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated by Fr. John Beitans at 10 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Edinburgh. A funeral lunch will follow at the church. There will be a private burial service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Knights of Columbus Council 15102, Edinburgh, IN, 46124 or The College Program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Marshall University at the following address: Marshall University, Autism Training Center, Old Main 316, One John Marshall Dr., Huntington, WV 25755-2430. Checks may be made to Marshall University.