John "Tuck" Keleher, Jr., age 97, of Tonawanda, died Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at his residence. Born September 19, 1920 in Albion, he was the 2nd oldest of 10 children of the late John and Katherine (nee Smith) Keleher and worked from a young age to help his family during the Depression. After High School, John joined the Army Air Corps and was an air engineer in World War II. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.
After his discharge from the Army Air Corps, he worked at Boeing, eventually working and retiring from American Airlines as a Chief Mechanic in 1978, after 32 years of employment. John also held a pilot's license and owned his own planes in the 1970s and 1980s. Flying was a passion for him throughout his entire life.
John enjoyed the outdoors, bike-riding, hiking, and especially skiing. Over the years, he traveled the world with the American Airlines Ski Team, of which he was a founding member. As part of the North American Airline Ski Federation (NAASF), John - known as Tuck to his skiing "family" - competed in ski racing, partying and free skiing. In 2009, Tuck won the Spirit of NAASF Award for his sportsmanship and fun-loving personality.
John resided in several cities during his career, but his heart was always in Tonawanda at his family home. He often shared memories of his parents and living with his siblings with his family and friends. He grew "wild flowers" and kept his yard blooming nearly all year long. He loved crazy hats and was always the life of the party!
He lived his life as he wanted and was never concerned about what other people thought. John was very independent his entire life, and as he encountered people in WNY and in his travels, he was always very proud when he learned of people that were of the Keleher lineage.
He was the brother of the late Mary Markel, Peggy Holler, Frank, Clement, George, James, Joseph, Thomas, and Paul Keleher. He is survived by many nieces and nephews. John will be missed by all of his family and friends. Everyone who knew him will always remember a life lived without compromise, with honesty, with laughter, and just a touch of stubborness. We are all so lucky to have shared our world with our beloved Uncle Johnny. It's the end of an era. Thanks, Tuck.
There is no visitation. A Graveside Service will be held at 1 PM Saturday, October 13, 2018 in St. Anthony's Garden West at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 4000 Elmwood Avenue, Town of Tonawanda. Friends invited. If desired, memorials to the ECMC Foundation, 462 Grider Street, Buffalo, NY 14215, are preferred by the family.
There's still time to send flowers to the Graveside Service at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery at 1:00 PM on October 13, 2018.
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