John was born in Midvale, Ohio to Celeste and Aurelia Pedri who had emigrated from Italy prior to WWI. Celeste was a coal miner; and growing up, John worked along with his brother Leo in the family mine in Ohio. He often related detailed accounts of the hard work drilling and blasting, then delivering the coal to their customers in the family truck, delighting in the fact that he was not old enough to drive.
After high school, and while working on the railroad as a brakeman, John enlisted in the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor. He trained as a bombardier navigator in the new B-26 medium bomber. He was wounded on his third mission, earned the Purple Heart and Silver Star, then went on to complete 37 more missions in the European theatre. Returning stateside as a Second Lieutenant, he served the rest of this enlistment as a bombardier instructor at a base in Marianna, Florida. It was there, in 1944, that he met (on a blind date) his beautiful partner for the next 62 years, Frances Harkins. They were married at the base chapel on December 19, 1945.
Though Frances was heartbroken to leave her beloved Florida, they moved to Columbus, Ohio, where John attended The Ohio State University. After earning his Master’s degree in Geology, they moved to Casper, Wyoming, where John would work in the petroleum exploration business for the next 50 years. Frances came to absolutely love Wyoming, even though she recalls crying the first 25 years she lived there. In later years, much to Frances’s delight they escaped the bitter Wyoming winters to Manasota Key, Florida.
John was active in the Wyoming Geological Association, the Casper Petroleum Club, and was a devoted member of Our Lady of Fatima and Saint Anthony Catholic Churches. John always enjoyed a good party, dancing, cooking, traveling, reading, telling stories and sharing an evening of gin and tonic with his Honey… just two ice cubes please!
John passed peacefully at 96 years in the care of Central Wyoming Hospice after a brief illness. He was preceded in death by his wife Frances in 2007, his parents, brothers Leo and Julio, grandchildren, Stacey in 1980, Christopher in 1985, and Joe in 2005. He is survived by his sister Eleanor Jackson (Bernie) of Columbus, Ohio, children, David (Danna) of Casper, Catherine Grieve of Portland, OR, Daniel (Maureen) of Longmont, CO and Mark (Laurie) of Oakton, VA, 22 grandchildren and 44 great grandchildren.
A Rosary will be held on August 11th at 7:00 PM at Newcomer Funeral Home-Casper Chapel. Services will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic church on August 12th at 10:00 AM, followed by interment at Highland Cemetery in Casper. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations may be made to Central Wyoming Hospice of Casper.
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