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In loving memory of
John J. Petraits
  • December 20, 1930
  • -
  • December 17, 2017

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John J. Petraits, 86, of Fort Myers and Martinsville, Indiana, slipped

the surly bonds of earth Sunday, December 17, 2017. He was born

December 20, 1930 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Charles and Louise

Petraits, grew up in Speedway, Indiana, attended Speedway schools

and General Motors Institute (GMI). Sponsored by Allison Division

and granted an essential industry deferment, he was assigned a test

engine program flying out of Edwards Air Force Base in 1953. He

and his bride, Margaret Ann Davidson took up residence in

Lancaster, California where they lived until returning to Indiana in

1956, to new research assignments and a career that would extend for

42 years until 1990.

As Pittsboro residents they participated in Hendricks County life for the next 50 years as

active members of St. Malachy Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and other community activities.

John earned a MS degree from Purdue in 1966 and soon added a 22-year part time teaching

career of Physics at the Indianapolis campus of IUPUI.

He designed and built a family home at Brownsburg in 1969. In 1970, as scoutmaster of

Pittsboro Troop 309, he had the honor of taking 5 Eagle Scouts, including his son Jay, on a

Philmont Expedition.

He also earned his private pilot’s license and joined the Cloud Niners Flying club where he

retained membership for 27 years. He loved flying almost as much as he loved his four

children, Jay, Margaret Kyle, Ellen, and Greg. Always the teacher, he joined many other pilots to

give introductory flights to numerous youth as part of the EAA national program. When

Parkinson’s Disease grounded his flying he conducted a ground school for these young eagles

explaining the physics of how a plane stayed in the air. He was among the strong voices of

private pilots to retain an airport in Hendricks County who were successful in establishing

Gordon Graham Airport.

He was a member of the Brownsburg Lions for 15 years and an associate member of the

Martinsville Noon Lions after moving to Morgan County in 2006. He and Margaret were Guides

for the Eiteljorg Native American Museum and traveled the country extensively and attended

several Elderhostel studies. He also worked several seasons for H & R Block doing taxes. All

of this was managed around snowbird escapes to Fort Myers, where they resided with their

daughter Maggie Kyle while they participated in programs to battle Parkinson’s. Hope Hospice

has been their support and inspiration in their final battle and many expressions of gratitude and

admiration are sent to the 410 team.

In addition to his wife of 64 years, children, and granddaughter Sami, John is survived by

brothers Robert and Michael Petraits and their families.

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for January 9, at 11:00 A.M. at St. John XXIII Catholic

Church in Fort Myers.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Brownsburg Lions, PO Box 84, Brownsburg, IN

46112; Martinsville Noon Lions, P.O. 1062, Martinsville, IN 46151-0062 ; St Martin’s Catholic Church,

1709 E. Harrison St., Martinsville, IN 46151; St. John XXIII Catholic Church, 13060 Palomino Lane,

Fort Myers, FL 33912; Mathew J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, P.O. 5014, Hagerstown,

MD 21741-5014.

Affordable Cremations by Baldwin Brothers, Fort Myers, is entrusted with final care.

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  1. William Mayer says:
    07 Jan 2018
    Condolences to the family from me upon your loss, but also on behalf of my brother Joseph Mayer who was a classmate of John’s at GMI. Joe died from Parkinson’s on Aug. 26, 2017. I just learned of John’s death from the notice in the Indianapolis Star. I suspect that Joe was there to greet John upon his arrival in heaven!

  2. Mark S. McCormick says:
    27 Dec 2017

    Eileen and I are very sad to learn of John's recent passing. We heard via the St. Martin bulletin last Sunday. We will pray for John, you and your family in this difficult time.

    Your St. Martin friends,

    Mark and Eileen McCormick

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