John Halavonich, 97, of Staunton, passed away on Friday, May 7, 2021 at The Glenwood Supportive Living. He was born November 10, 1923 in Benld, IL to Paul and Katie (Lisac) Halavonich. He married Catherine Garbolino Donaldson in July 1964, and she preceded him in death in January 1981. He married Norene Sievers Gerson in December 1983 and she preceded him in death in May 2018. John often said he was extremely fortunate to have two good wives in one lifetime. John was also preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Paul, and Mike, two sisters, Dorothy Gusewelle and Anne Knott and a niece, Beverly Gusewelle Dooley.
John is survived by his daughter, Nancy (David) McMaster of Dawson, IL; two granddaughters, Theresa (Christopher) Fehring of trophy Club, TX, and Sarah (Ryan) Lewis of Corona, CA; five great-grandchildren, William and Catherine Fehring, and Nicholas, Benjamin, and Matthew Lewis. Also surviving is one sister, Rosemary Tallman of Staunton an many nieces and nephews. John is also survived by Norene’s two daughters, Lois (Ron) Neal, Elaine (Greg) Bishop, grandchildren, Jacqueline Neal, Steve (Tammy) Kidd, and Jeff Kidd.
John proudly served in the United States Army during World War II, inducted in March 1943. John landed in Normandy, France on D-Day + 4 and fought in five major battles including the Battle of the Bulge. John was wounded in Germany and awarded the Purple Heart. After his discharge in October 1945, he worked in Staunton Mine # 7 before beginning his career as a heavy-equipment operator. John started his own excavating and crane business in 1953 when he bought his first bulldozer and began working for area farmers clearing their land. During his 48 years in the excavation and crane business, he completed many projects throughout central Illinois including ponds, lakes, basements, building demolition, three-span bridges over township roads, removal of railroad ties in Gillespie and Litchfield, and the building of Interstate 55 from Mt. Olive to Worden. He was also the owner and operator of the Staunton and Litchfield Landfills. He continued to operate heavy equipment well into his 80’s.
In 1983, John’s love of dancing and big band music led him to build the Crystal Ballroom. He and Norene owned the Ballroom until 1996. They enjoyed dancing at their own ballroom and ballrooms throughout the United States. In 1986, John also built the Crystal Inn (now the Super 8). John started Staunton Saw Sharpening around 2000 and continued sharpening “anything with an edge” for 20 years.
John was a lifetime resident of Staunton and a self-made man, known for his skills and commitment to excellence with a strong work ethic, always staying active. Until his recent move to The Glenwood at 96, one could find John mowing his lawn or working in his yard, attending gun shows with his good friend, Marvin Little, visiting with his sister, Rosemary, eating out and visiting with many friends. John always had a positive attitude and colorful personality. Because of his outgoing personality, he never met a stranger. His life was long and full.
John was a member of Operating Engineers Union # 520, Staunton VFW Post #1241, and St. Michael’s the Archangel Catholic Church in Staunton.
Nancy and Dave would like to express their deepest gratitude for the care, comfort and kindness provided to him by the staff of The Glenwood and Residential Hospice. Their thanks also to good neighbors (a special thanks to Paul Poeling), friends, and other family members who kept an eye on him.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, May 17, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Williamson Funeral Home in Staunton with Father George Radosevich officiating, with visitation one hour prior to services. Burial will be held at Holy Cross Cemetery in Gillespie, IL. The Staunton Military Honor Guard will conduct graveside military rites. Memorials are suggested to the charity of the donor’s choice, Staunton VFW Post #1241, or to St. Michael’s Catholic Church of Staunton stained glass window fund.
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Charity of the Donor's Choice
Staunton VFW Post #1241
120 E. Henry St, Staunton IL 62088
St. Michael's Catholic Church - Stained Glass Window Fund
428 E. North St., Staunton IL 62088