John H. “Jack” Christmas
(Lost February 28th 2005)
Jack was born in Philadelphia on July 12th, 1947. In 1965, Jack graduated from Frankford High School and later earned an Associates Degree in Applied Science and Fire Science from the Philadelphia Community College. In September 1966, Jack was hired as a Firefighter for the Philadelphia Fire Department. In December of that same year, Jack enlisted in the United States Army and served two years in Korea in the Army’s K9 Unit. On February 6th, 1971, Jack became the loving husband of Maria “Maryann” Oleshytsky.
Jack spent 27 years faithfully serving the citizens of Philadelphia as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department. In addition to holding the rank of Lieutenant, Jack served as an Assistant Fire Marshall as well as the Administrative Assistant to the Fire Commissioner. In 1995, after retiring from the Philadelphia Fire Department, Jack worked for several years as a Fire Investigator in the private sector and in 2003 was named an Assistant Building / Code Inspector for Whitemarsh Township. After retirement, Jack began serving his new community, Whitemarsh Township, as a volunteer with the Barren Hill Volunteer Fire Company. Throughout his tenure at Barren Hill, Jack served as Vice President and Trustee. In addition, Jack rose through the ranks of the Fire Brigade, where he retired as Deputy Chief.
Jack spent his life teaching, serving and mentoring everyone he came in contact with. The list of people whom he has touched throughout his lifetime is endless. Around every corner, there is someone who Jack, in some way has taught or guided. Jack’s influence has changed the lives of many young people who continue to strive to follow in his footsteps. From those following his footsteps into the Philadelphia Fire Department to those who follow his path in life, we all live a better life having known such an inspiration. Around the firehouse, Jack is well remembered for his words of wisdom, “The young bull and old bull,” and “Joe the bridgebuilder.” He was always there to mediate a conflict, or tell someone if something wasn’t right, but he wouldn’t stop at that, he would sit you down, and explain how to make it better, thats just the kind of guy he was. We need more people like Jack in this world, for then it would be a better place.
Sadly, after a long hard battle with Brain Cancer, Jack passed away on February 28th, 2005. Every day passes and people wonder why a man of such great talent and inspiration can be gone so soon, however, we can be happy and celebrate his wonderful life knowing his legacy lives on through the lives of so many people whom he has touched. Godspeed Jack, You are sorely missed…