John Francis Vollentine, 102, passed away peacefully on July 5, 2021. He was born on November 2, 1918, to Fred and Julia Becka Vollentine in Hallettsville, Texas. He grew up on the farm there and attended Witting School. After school he worked with his aunt and uncle in the dry cleaning business. In 1942 he joined the Army and was stationed in the South Pacific, attaining the rank of Sergeant. After retuning from service overseas, he was assigned to Brooks Army Hospital in San Antonio as an administrator. In 1943 he married the love of his life, Nathalie Wenske. They lived happily together for 64 years until her death in 2007. Upon leaving the service in 1945, they returned to Hallettsville and opened an army-navy surplus store for two years. He then built a restaurant where he did a thriving business catering for many functions including the Rotary and Lions Clubs. In 1953 he sold and moved his family to Houston where he was a top salesman for a large grocery chain. In 1965 the family moved to Caldwell where they purchased a farm. He mainly raised cattle, chickens, and exotic sheep. He worked on his beloved farm for decades and continued to oversee it until his death.
John enjoyed being involved, volunteering and organizing on behalf of his community. In 1983 he organized the Henry Vollentine Family reunion held annually in Hallettsville for decades. He arranged for a historical marker at St Mary’s cemetery honoring his great grandfather, Henry, and raised money to repair old gravesites at the cemetery. John belonged to the Knights of Columbus since 1948 and in 2000 became a charter member of the fourth degree Knights where he held several positions over the years and was an active member until his death. In 1965 he became an active parishioner at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Caldwell. He was a life member of both the D.A.V. and V.F.W where he served in several different offices. In 1968, John and Nathalie started the Cooks Point 4-H club where they worked tirelessly for over 20 years and received the certificate of appreciation for outstanding and dedicated service. John worked with the Burleson County Fair Association for decades and served as President and received their Outstanding Service Award for his work and dedication. Additionally, he was a member of the Go-Texan Committee for over 10 years. John helped organize the Cooks Point Community Center and Volunteer Fire Department and served in several capacities. He also belonged to the Retired and Senior Volunteer program of the Brazos Valley. In 2008 he was awarded Burleson County’s Outstanding Citizen Award.
He volunteered extensively for years at the Leisure Lodge and St. Joseph Manor nursing homes. He was a member of the Manor’s Family Council Planning Committee and was awarded the Stewardship Award. He called bingo on Tuesdays, helped at the dance every Friday, drove Manor residents to doctor appointments, helped obtain the Caldwell Civic Center for the Manor’s Annual dinner, got local charities to provide kolaches and supplies every week, and got the V.F.W. to donate haircuts for all the veterans.
Although his community involvement was very important to him, the love for his family was even greater. He always wanted a large family and convinced Nathalie to go along with his dream. Together they raised seven children and were very involved in the lives of their 13 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and five great, great grandchildren. Nothing brought a bigger smile to John’s face than seeing his many grandchildren and the large family gatherings at the farm. There are countless other nieces, nephews, cousins, and family friends that spent time visiting at the farm who are considered family.
John will be remembered for his love for his large family, working with children, contributing his time to many organizations, working on his farm, and dancing at the Manor as well as several area dance clubs. At his 100th Birthday celebration, when asked about his key to a long, healthy life, he explained the importance of staying active and encouraged all to just keep moving.
Special thanks to his granddaughter, Misti Vollentine-Machinski who was his care giver over the last year. The family is forever grateful for your dedication.
John is preceded in death by his parents, wife Nathalie, son John Riley Vollentine, sister Susie Meisetschlaeger and end of life companion and dancing partner Lillian Zaskoda. He is survived by two daughters Rebecca Shannon of Houston and Laura Hampton and partner Christopher Mouton of Houston; Four sons, Forrest Vollentine and wife Kim of Houston, Guy Vollentine and wife Kay of Caldwell, Bill Vollentine and wife Pam of Caldwell, Stephen Vollentine of Caldwell; Daughter-in-law Jeanne Vollentine of Caldwell, Sister-in-law Virginia Smith, 13 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, five great great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Pallbearers are grandsons John Shannon, Chris Vollentine, Brandon Vollentine, Michael Vollentine; great nephew John Francis Meisetschlaeger; and grandson-in-law Eric Machinski. Honorary pallbearers are grandchildren Jackie Shannon Cirillo, Lisa Vollentine Schrader, Jim Vollentine, GJ Vollentine, Kristi Vollentine Fox Satsky, Misti Vollentine-Machinski, Lindsay Vollentine Darthard, Susanne Vollentine, and Stephen Vollentine.
A public visitation will be Friday, July 9 at Strickland Funeral Home in Caldwell from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A vigil and rosary will begin at 7 p.m. The celebration of life Catholic mass will be Saturday morning, July 10th starting at 10 a.m., followed by a military salute and burial at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Caldwell.
In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the Knights of Columbus Scholarship Fund, 500 West OSR, Caldwell TX 77836 or to the V.F.W. Post 4458 Campbell-Williams Post, 1644 State Hwy 36 S., Caldwell TX 77836.