John R. "Jack" Oltman, 83, of Minonk passed away peacefully with family beside him at UnityPoint Methodist Hospital in Peoria on December 2, 2021.
Jack was born in Streator on August 6, 1938. He was the son of Roland and Marie Folkerts Oltman of rural Minonk. He married Rosemary Burkitt on December 7, 1958. Together they had two children whom he loved dearly. He later married Mary Gahm on June 23, 1990; she passed away on December 4, 1999. He married Rebecca Hardine on April 19, 2003; she passed away on September 1, 2021.
Survivors include his two children: Jeff Oltman of Minonk, Julie (Paul) Brooks of Benld, IL; three step-daughters: Rachel (Scott) Kramer of Germantown Hills, Gretchen (John) McDonald of Peoria, Megan West of Washington; a brother, Harvey (Catherine) Oltman of Lacon; a sister, Joan Osterman of Minonk; nine grandchildren: Jennifer (Luke) Mulch, Stephanie (Randy) Shipman, Molly (Quinn) Krug, Christopher Oltman, Nathan Oltman, Maria (Benjamin) Wolfe, Westin Kramer, Taylor Lowery, Brayden Lowery; six great-grandchildren: Rendan Shipman, Kirsten Shipman, Lydia Mulch, Charlotte Mulch, William Krug, Elizabeth Wolfe; and one great-grandchild on the way. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Jack attended the one-room Center School through fifth grade, then continued at Minonk Grade School, graduating from Minonk-Dana-Rutland High School in 1956. Growing up on the farm, he was a natural-born engineer; he developed a love for anything mechanical and solving problems with creativity and ingenuity. He graduated from DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago and embraced new technologies as they became available.
In the spirit of a true pioneer, Jack got his start in farming by rebuilding and refurbishing burned out farm equipment. He was also an early pioneer in no-till soil conservation and an air delivery system for planting seed. He shared his knowledge with anyone willing to listen, always emphasizing the value of hard work and perseverance. He led by example. He loved a challenge and was tenacious about finding a solution. He was adamant about keeping order in his workshop; rules are there for a reason. He was an avid collector and sentimental about the old stories told around the old cast iron stove in the workshop.
He became a private pilot and hosted "Fly-In Breakfasts" at the farm. He loved participating in the Pontiac Threshermen's Reunion, taking his Case Steam Engine, his Oil Pull Tractor and his 1/2-scale Case Engine and serving as an officer and director of the organization. He served on the Benson Farmers Co-op Board, Clayton-Bennington Drainage District and the Minonk Fire Department.
Jack and Rebecca toured the country on their motorcycle with cousins, took their classic cars to local shows and shared many winters with friends at their home in Florida. Mostly, he loved his family, and hosting get-togethers at the family farm with everyone around, and always plenty of good food and fun - and often at Christmas, Santa would stop by.
Visitation will take place on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Ruestman-Harris Funeral Home in Minonk. The Memorial Service will take place on Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home with visitation starting at 10:00 a.m. Inurnment will take place at Clayton Township Cemetery following services. Memorials may be made to the Central States Threshermen's Reunion, the Minonk Fire Department or the donor's choice. Online condolences may be sent to family at www.ruestmanharrisfuneralhome.com.