John “Jack” J. Rafferty, born October 20, 1942, passed away on March 24, 2021, following his short battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Jack was born in Jersey City, NJ and lived all over New Jersey. He was the oldest of 4, with three half siblings, Don, George, and Alice. He is the father of three children, John, Tony, and Jackie, with his first wife, Louise. He is also the father of two daughters, Sydney and Carly, with his current wife Susan. He has eight grandchildren, Jennifer, Mindy, Ashley, Jonna, Hannah, Brantley, Joshua, Courtney and two great-grandchildren, Morgan and Ralph.
Jack spent most of his life in New Jersey working in the correctional system. He worked many jobs as a young man, and served in the United States Army beginning at the age of 17. He got his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University as an adult with a full time job and a family of 5 to support. He became the warden and later Superintendent of Rahway Prison, now called East Jersey State Prison. He eventually became Deputy Director of all adult prisons in New Jersey. He had a very successful career, and had an endless amount of stories to tell of his interactions with inmates, politicians, governors, and even some celebrities. He was a no nonsense kind of guy, and wanted it to be known that you could call him whatever you want, as long as you put “fair” in front of it. He didn’t care who you were or how popular or unpopular you were or where you came from, he would treat a chimney sweep like a king or a king like a chimney sweep if that is what their character showed, and if you showed him you had a good heart there is nothing in the world he wouldn’t do for you. He relentlessly stuck to who he was and celebrated people who didn’t like it. Jack was unshakable in his desire to do the right thing and his care for other people. Jack drug himself through a less than ideal childhood until he became a man that was deeply loved and looked up to by all who met him, aside from the people who disliked him for being exactly who he was- fair, blunt, and unapologetically fierce.
Jack was passionate about many things. His oldest daughter, Jackie, is severely mentally disabled and as such, he was a formidable warrior as an advocate for the mentally disabled. In his retirement, he worked with the Guardian ad Litem program as an advocate for children going through the court system. He showed them the same fierce protection he showed his own children.
Jack was also a dedicated musician. He grew up playing saxophone and continued to play in bands all through his life. He was an incredible improviser, and in his retirement, he played with his daughters at various assisted living facilities around Citrus County. He loved bringing joy to the residents through music, and would play the music of their younger years for them.
Jack was happiest on the water. He loved fishing but he would always say that it was really just about being out there on the water. “If I go out, and the boat doesn’t sink, it’s a good day. If I catch a fish, it’s a great day.” He loved dolphins and would bring the boat to a screeching halt if anyone so much as said the word dolphin while out on the water with him.
Jack was his family’s rock. He took care of everything for them and would not rest until he knew that all his loved ones were completely taken care of. He taught them, as well as everyone he met, to be strong and independent. He took care of them with all of his might, but always kept an emphasis on not needing to depend on anybody.
Jack was a truly unique gem in this world, with endless amounts of stories, wisdom, and assistance for anyone that came into his life. The sheer amount of love and care that radiated out of him towards the people he loved was astounding. He is somebody who will never be forgotten due to the abundance of lives that he touched.
His Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, April 6th at the Heinz Funeral Home on Highway 44 in Inverness at noon, with a gathering beginning one hour prior. Afterwards will be a service at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell at 2:00 PM. Masks are required at both events. Heinz Funeral Home & Cremation, www.heinzfh.com.
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