John Joseph Hinchey

December 05, 1917 - February 02, 2011 

John Joseph Hinchey

December 05, 1917 - February 02, 2011 

Obituary for John Joseph Hinchey

Captain John J. Hinchey U.S.N. (Retired), loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, hero in every sense of the word, who spent his final days surrounded by many of his loving family members, passed peacefully early in the morning of February 2, 2011, in the company of his beloved wife, Russell, and his son Patrick.

Jack married G. Russell Layton on February 23, 1946. During 65 years of marriage they were blessed with six children. Jack is survived by his wife, Russell, of Olathe, Kansas; sister Catherine Hinchey, Stockton, California; sons John Hinchey and wife Pat of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Michael Hinchey of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Robert Hinchey of Rockland, Maine; Patrick Hinchey and wife Kim of Atlanta, Georgia; daughters Mary MacNamee and husband Dana of Medford, Massachusetts; Anne O’Flaherty and husband Vincent of Kansas City, Missouri; 16 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.

Born December 5, 1917 in Omaha, Nebraska, Jack was one of seven children of John and Myrtle Hinchey. Jack was blessed with many talents that exhibited themselves at an early age. He was a student of the sciences and a talented swimmer, setting the Nebraska High School swimming record in the 50-yard freestyle. In 1932 at age 14 Jack’s life took a dramatic turn when his father died. He left high school for one year to work and assist his mother. He returned to high school with the support of coaches and teachers, who permitted him to attend a condensed class schedule during the day so that he could continue his night job, and to participate in swim meets without attending practices. In 1977, Jack was presented the Cal Hubbard Award by the NHSSCA as the most outstanding 50yd Freestyle swimmer in Nebraska High School history.

After high school graduation, Jack aspired to an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy but initially was granted only alternate status. He accepted an athletic scholarship to swim for the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and yet held hopes his alternate position would eventually result in an appointment. His hopes came true in 1938 and he entered the Naval Academy that fall.

As a member of United States Naval Academy class of 1942 Jack competed on the varsity swim team. During his senior year at the Academy, Pearl Harbor was bombed and Jack’s graduation date was accelerated by six months. He volunteered for submarine duty and served in World War II in the Pacific theater aboard the submarine USS Halibut. He was the dive officer aboard the Halibut for seven war patrols in the Pacific including missions near the Japanese islands. The final war patrol in the fall of 1944, near Leyte island in the Philippines, resulted in severe depth charging that permanently damaged the Halibut and ended her service. For his “gallantry and intrepidity in action” and for his “inspiration to officers and men in his ship” during the depth charging barrage, Jack was awarded the Silver Star by President F.D. Roosevelt.

Following the war Jack was assigned to the US government’s nuclear submarine program. He earned two Masters degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: one in Naval Construction and Marine Engineering in 1948 and one in Advanced Nuclear Physics in 1952. He became a design engineer with the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program under the direction of Admiral Hyman Rickover, and was handpicked by Admiral Rickover to work on the design of numerous nuclear submarines including the USS Nautilus and USS John Adams. In addition to the Silver Star, Jack’s distinguished Navy career was also marked by the award of a Bronze Star, and several commendations.
Jack retired from the Navy in 1964, but his work for the nuclear submarine program did not end. From 1964-66 Jack was the superintendant of the nuclear submarine program at the US Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His expertise in nuclear power was then put to work as an employee of General Electric in Schenectady, New York, where he was instrumental in the turbine generator marketing operation. He retired in 1987 after a 20-year distinguished career at General Electric. From 1992 through 2007 Jack and his wife Russell enjoyed retirement near his beloved Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He treated visiting family members to several memorable tours of the Naval Academy and the Annapolis area, inspiring yet another generation.

The Navy recognized Jack’s “exceptional ability in assisting in the solution of novel and complex problems,” his “outstanding professional skill, leadership and tireless devotion to duty,” and his “calm manner.” Jack’s family and friends know these are the same qualities he brought to every aspect of his life. He will always be remembered for his love for God, family, and country; for his keen intelligence, his sense of humor, his unending generosity, and his calm in the storm.

Visitation will be held from 1:00-2:00 pm, Friday, February 25, 2011 at Prince of Peace Church, 16000 W. 143rd Street, Olathe, KS 66062. Mass of Christian Burial will follow the visitation at 2:00 pm. Internment with military honors will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Boys Town Jack Hinchey Memorial Fund, P. O. Box 145-Memorial, Boys Town, NE 68010.

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