John (Jack) F. Duignan, Sr., of Hummelstown, PA, passed away Tuesday, September 1, 2020 in the Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center.
Jack, born at home in Scranton, PA on April 22, 1933, was the son of Luke and Ellen (Proudfoot) Duignan, Irish immigrants who left Ireland after the 1920 Irish War of Independence. Upon graduation from Scranton Technical High School, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving in Naval Air on the USS Lake Champlain. Following his military service, he was accepted into the Pennsylvania State Police Cadet Training Program in August of 1955 and graduated in February of 1956, beginning an illustrious 36-year career with the Pennsylvania State Police while also pursuing his love for education. As a Trooper, he was assigned to various barracks throughout the state. In 1966, he was promoted to Corporal and in 1967 he graduated from Northwestern University’s Police Administration Training Program. He was then promoted to Sergeant in 1968, Lieutenant in 1969, and began taking undergraduate courses at York College. In June of 1974 he received his Bachelor of Science in Police Science and Administration from York College, and was promoted to Captain in 1975. Shortly thereafter, Jack was nominated to the FBI’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 107th Session, and in conjunction with the FBI program, took graduate courses at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Following his completion of the program at the FBI Academy, he began taking graduate courses at Temple University in Personnel Measurement and Research. In May of 1977, he received a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. Jack continued to take courses at the FBI Academy and at Temple University, and in 1987, he received his Doctorate in Adult Education from Temple University. Jack was the first member of the Pennsylvania State Police to receive a doctorate degree. He served as the Director of Training at the Academy and he also served as the Director of the Evaluations and Standards Division, two of his favorite assignments. But when asked, Jack loved every minute of his career with the State Police and was proud of his service as a police officer.
In addition to his State Police career, Jack did consulting work for municipal police departments and was called as an expert witness in police personnel litigation in Pennsylvania and New York, testifying for both plaintiffs and defendants. He taught courses at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, the University of North Florida Institute of Police Technology and Management, Temple University, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Penn State. He was a guest lecturer at the FBI Academy, Marywood College, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Delaware, Delaware County Community College, and York College. Jack also authored numerous articles for professional publications.
In January of 1991, Jack retired from the State Police as a Major. However, he continued to teach and guest lecture at various colleges throughout the U.S.
Jack is survived by his beloved wife, Pamela Packer Duignan; a son, John F. Duignan, Jr., a daughter, Anne Lavin (Tom), and daughter, Patricia Best (Ryan); six grandsons, Sean Duignan (Jackie), Ryan Duignan (Ashley), Luke Duignan, Michael Shank, Thomas Lavin, and Hayden Best; five great-grandsons; stepdaughters, Lauren Cacciamani (Paul), Lindsay Burk (Ryan), and step-grandchildren, Olivia Gordon, Paul Cacciamani, Lucy Cacciamani, Catherine Cacciamani, Evan Burk, and Paige Burk. He was preceded in death by his brother, Luke Duignan, his sister, Anne McDonnell, and his stepdaughter, Courtney Pollock Gordon.
Despite all his administrative and educational accomplishments, Jack fondly remembered police work as a Trooper. One highlight of Jack’s professional career was his security assignment to former President Dwight Eisenhower’s farm in Gettysburg for the centennial celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg. He was introduced to “The General” at the farm and spent a wonderful day with Ike discussing the history of the State Police, golf and the Battle of Gettysburg. Jack was thrilled when Ike remembered him the following year when Jack was assigned to security at a national Republican gathering at the Hotel Hershey. General Eisenhower spotted him standing along the driveway leading up to the entrance of the hotel and, rather than go right into the event, he walked down the driveway to shake Jack’s hand and greet him. Following that greeting, Jack was assigned to escort Eisenhower into the hotel and up to his room. Another notable assignment was to provide security to then presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, who was at a campaign event in Allentown. To avoid the crushing crowd, Jack had to lift JFK up and into his vehicle. Jack often commented on how light JFK was! As the Crime Lieutenant at Troop B Washington, Jack was one of the first at the scene of the 1969 murders of United Mine Workers labor leader, Jock Yablonski, his wife, and daughter. Tony Boyle, the president of the UMW union, had ordered the murders and was convicted in April of 1974 and sentenced to 3 consecutive life sentences. These are just some of the stories Jack’s family and friends will remember. And being Irish, there were a lot of stories!
When Jack finally retired completely, he retired to the golf course and the kitchen. Jack was a fabulous cook who enjoyed preparing meals for friends and family, all grateful recipients of his talent. Meals for friends were accompanied by any number of glasses of Yuengling, his favorite beverage, or a nice glass of wine. And when Pam’s girls were growing up and she would arrive home with her daughters after their many softball and field hockey games, Jack always had a wonderful meal waiting for all four of them.
When he wasn’t cooking, the “Wick” was his favorite place to eat on a Friday night, enjoying a beer with his son while perhaps celebrating or commiserating the Steelers latest game. Sometimes visits to the Wick were after an afternoon of golf. Jack loved the game, and especially with his favorite golf partners - son John, his great friend Sgt. Nick Dana, and occasionally his grandsons Sean, Ryan and Luke. He loved his family.
A private burial service will be held at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.
Trefz & Bowser Funeral Home, Inc., is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Pennsylvania State Police Historical, Educational, and Memorial Center, 187 E. Hershey Park Dr., Hershey, PA 17033.