Jack Guns passed away peacefully at his home in Polson on Aug. 23, 2019. He was born to Katherine Lease and Gilliam Guns on March 1, 1928, in Toppenish, Washington. The third of three brothers, he grew up and attended school in Zillah, Washington, a small town near Yakima.
Owing to the Depression, Jack worked hard throughout his childhood and youth to help his mother with expenses. He stocked groceries, hauled trash, worked in the fruit-packing plants, nailed packing crates, harvested hops, and worked as a lifeguard at the local pool. Still, he found time to enjoy life; he participated in scouts, played baseball, basketball, and football for Zillah High School, took part in school plays, and hunted and fished with friends. Jack loved pranks, and more than once attracted the irate attention of the high school principal. Nevertheless, he graduated in good standing and directly enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in military government in Korea from 1946 to 1948.
Upon his return, he enrolled at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington, where he earned a B.A. in education. He later completed, while teaching, a master’s degree in administration. During his college years, he worked summers in Alaska, joining the crew of a coastal salvage barge, where he was pressed into service as a hard-hat diver, a skill he learned on the job.
Jack began his career in the Yakima area, where he taught seventh and eighth grades and coached football and basketball. He loved teaching, and was equally fascinated whether he was leading an honors English class or a group comprised entirely of struggling students.
Jack married Margaret Andreas in 1954. They settled in Yakima and started a family that eventually included three children: sons Bill and Jeff and daughter Lisa. Over the years the family lived in several West Coast and Midwest locations as Jack pursued his career. Margaret passed away in 1987.
Silver-Burdett, a textbook publishing company, recruited Jack in 1961 as Northwest math consultant and sales representative. The work suited him. Knowing his way around the classroom as he did, he worked well with teachers and administrators, and enjoyed presenting products, conducting workshops, and selling books. These same skills recommended him to McGraw-Hill’s school division, which he joined in the mid 1960s. He spent the next 25 years in sales and marketing management for the company, serving as regional manager for the Northwest, West Coast, and Mid-Continent regions. Retiring from McGraw-Hill in 1990, Jack subsequently signed on as vice president of marketing with CHEF Publishing in Seattle and took on some other consulting assignments as well before he was finally ready to let go of the world of work.
In 1989, Jack wed Mary Ann Jones, and in 1994 they moved to Polson and built a home on Flathead Lake. There he had ample time to pursue lifelong interests in reading, bridge and golf. He was active in the Polson Elks for many years, ultimately serving as ER. Always interested in politics and public policy, Jack chaired the Lake County Democrats and ran twice for the State House, in 1998 and 2000, to represent what was then House District 74. Bruised but unbowed by his losses, he cherished the experience.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, William and Victor; and his first wife, Margaret.
Jack is survived by his wife, Mary Ann; his son Bill (Janet) and their children, Daniel and Katherine; his daughter, Lisa (Dr. Steven Messerschmidt) and their children, Stefanie and Jillian and Stefanie’s sons, Sean and Steven Jones; and his son Jeff (Kelly) and their children, Audrey and Jack.
Services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 at 10:30 a.m., at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 110 6th Ave., Polson.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Boys and Girls Club in Polson or the Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula.