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