John Robert Labre
GLADSTONE – Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)
John Robert “Jack” Labre, 92, of Gladstone, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 27, 2014, at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, Mich., where he has resided since late April of 2014. He had his family by his side and went very peacefully. Jack was a wonderful husband and father and will be sadly missed by his family and friends.
Jack was born April 20, 1922, in Escanaba, the son of Rayne H. and Anna Mae (Corbett) Labre of Bark River, Mich. Growing up, he quickly recognized that he was a young man born to find kinship in the woods and streams of the Upper Peninsula; skipping school often to hitchhike along U.P.county roads in order to reach a favorite trout stream. He learned to run trap lines, hunt and fish. His mother had a wonderful vegetable garden and along with his success, the family table enjoyed many special dinners.
In December of 1942, Jack volunteered for the Army during Worlld War II and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne/307th Airborne Medical Company; receiving basic training and glider training at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He was then stationed in Morocco, North Africa, in May 1943 where he received parachute jump training. He was then detached to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was with these brave men in July 1943 when their first combat jump was made for the assault into Sicily. A few months later he made his second combat jump into Italy. He then sailed back to England with the 82nd Airborne in November 1943. Jack was with those first soldiers onboard hundreds of transport planes and gliders making their third airborne assault behind enemy lines into Normandy, France, in June 1944. His plane was shot down, but he and a few others managed to parachute safely to a landing and made their way to the fighting. In September he made his fourth combat jump into Holland. The months ahead were hard and the fighting ended for Jack when the 82nd Airborne crossed the Elbe River in February 1945 making their way into the town of Ludwigslust and liberated the concentration camp Wobbelin in May 1945. He returned Stateside in August 1945; being discharged in September 1945. In October 1949 he joined the Army Reserve. In October 1950 he was recalled to active duty to Korea as an Army reservist sergeant and assigned to the 1st Artillery Observation Battalion in February 1951 where he served as a medic in a combat zone until August 1951. He was rotated back to the U.S. and was released from active duty in September 1951. During his years of military service, he made four combat jumps and received numerous campaign ribbons, battle stars and badges along with the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, and most proudly for him, the Good Conduct Medal (if you had heard the stories of drinking stolen wine in France and Germany, you would understand).
Between the two wars he did manage to meet a beautiful young lady on a New Year’s Eve at a local tavern in Escanaba. Her name was Geraldine (Geri) Korinek. He asked if she would have supper with him later that week and she said yes and the rest became a celebration of 63 years of marriage. They took up residence on Wisconsin Avenue in Gladstone, Mich., where they raised their family of three girls, Susan, Nancy and Janet.
Jack started working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1945 in Minneapolis, Minn., as a mail sorter. When a position opened up in the Upper Peninsula for a mail sorter on the trains, he jumped. He worked several runs between Escanaba/Marinette to Chicago, Sault Ste Marie, and Marquette. When the trains stopped running mail bags, he moved into the position of rural route carrier in the Bark River area. This route fit in nicely with his love of hunting and fishing.
Many of his lunch times were spent on streams or woody areas along his route; casting a line for trout or making a successful shot at a partridge or two.
He retired from this route in 1980 and has enjoyed his retirement to the utmost. Jack and Geri shared a love for travel and this was passed on to their children. Many Augusts were spent traveling the western states with the girls; pulling a pop up camper and visiting the parks. They enjoyed many activities, including canoeing, fishing, spending time at Labre’s Lodge and Camp Lack-A-Nooky on the River Road near LaBranche with friends and family. Jack was strong and adventurous and had a true love of nature which he instilled into his three daughters. As a result, they share the same passion and curiosity that continues his legacy. Jack and Geri took up golf after retirement and were members of the Gladstone Golf Course. Jack was proud to be a member of the 82nd Airborne and enjoyed his conversations with other veterans down at the American Legion Gladstone Post 71. His life-long passion, though, was fly fishing for trout on the streams and rivers of the great U.P. The fact that he understood the entomology of the streams enabled him to tie his own flies to mimic the insect hatches, thus giving him an unrivaled success, much to the chagrin of other fishermen.
Jack is survived by his wife, Geri; daughters Susan (Tom) Creten from Wetmore, Mich. (Round Lake), Nancy (Dick) Gaudino from Herndon, Va., and Janet (Mick) Bruno from Gladstone, Mich.; three grandchildren, Scott (Susie) Creten, Kelly (Chris) Coleman, and Danielle Labre Johnston. He has five great-grandchildren. The family would also like to recognize Jim (Batiste) Moraska, Jack’s true friend and hunting/trapping buddy.
Jack was preceded in death by his mother and father, Anna Mae and Rayne Labre; sister, Eileen Scharlow; brother, Rene Labre; and his cousin, George Labre, who was a brother in heart. Also preceding him in death were his in-laws, Norman and Hilda Korinek; and all his “little dogs” whom he loved and cherished, dachshunds all, especially little Ruby, his last.
Special thanks to the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, especially all the folks in One East Nursing Unit, including all the special volunteers; Northwoods Home Care & Hospice of Gladstone; and MDS Community Action Agency and the Gladstone Senior Center.
In accordance with Jack’s wishes, a private celebration of his life for the immediate family was held on Sunday, June 29, at the Skradski Family Funeral Home in Gladstone.
Public graveside services will be held on Thursday July 3, at 3 p.m. at the Fernwood Cemetery in Gladstone with the Gladstone American Legion Post 71 conducting military rites. Please visit www.skradskifuneralhome.com where you can express your sympathy to the Labre family.