John “Jack” Dittmer
John D. “Jack” Dittmer, 86, of Elkader, died Saturday, May 31, 2014, at the Lutheran Home in Strawberry Point. He was born January 10, 1928, in Elkader, Iowa, to LeRoy and Helen (Schmidt) Dittmer. Jack grew up in Elkader, graduating from the Elkader High School in 1946. During the summer of 1945, Sec Taylor of the Des Moines Register nominated Jack to play in the U.S. All-American East-West baseball game in New York City. Jack’s coach for the East Team was Ty Cobb; the West Team was coached by Babe Ruth.
A scholarship was offered to Jack by the University of Iowa and, after four years and earning his Bachelor’s Degree, he became the first nine letterman at the University since 1940. In football he was an All-Conference selection in 1948, and made the 2nd team AP Big Ten Football in 1948. During his junior year of college, Jack received a letter from the Chicago Bears Football Club indicating their interest in his future. In baseball he was chosen on the All-Star Team in 1949, and the 2nd All-American Squad Team. In 1950, he received the U of I’s award for the Most Versatile Athlete and also won the Athletic Board Cup for Excellence in Athletics. In 1978, Jack was elected to the Iowa Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 1993, Jack was inducted into the National Iowa Lettermen’s Club Athletic Hall of Fame for the University of Iowa.
During his senior year of college, Jack received offers to play pro baseball from 12 of the major league teams. In 1950, Jack signed a professional baseball contract with the Boston Braves and played for farm teams in Denver, Atlanta, and Milwaukee (AAA). He was called up to the Boston Braves Major League team in 1952, and played with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953 through 1956. In 1957, he was sold to the Detroit Tigers and then played for AAA teams in Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento. He also played one winter in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 1959 Jack ended his pro career and sold cars for many years in Elkader until he retired in 2009.
Jack was united in marriage to Darlene Dougherty on December 9, 1950, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Elkader, and three children were born to this union. Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Darlene of Elkader; his children, Lisa (Kevin) Ihde of Farmersburg; Jan (John) Garms of Elkader; and Doug (Lylina) of Elkader; seven grandchildren, Kirstin, Kara, Jamie, Courtney, Jenna, Jason and Erin; great-grandchildren Audrey and Kate; and a host of other family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and one sister, Dorothy Dittmer.
Mass of Christian Burial was held 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Elkader with the Very Rev. Paul R. Peters as Celebrant. Visitation was from 3 to 7 pm Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at Peace United Church of Christ in Elkader and one hour before services at St. Joseph’s on Wednesday. Interment was at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Elkader
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Elkader EMT’s, Elkader Library or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Leonard Funeral Home in Elkader is assisting the family. Online condolences may be left with www.leonardfuneralhomes.com.
The family would like to express their appreciation to that wonderful staff of employees who cared for Jack the last four years in the Memory Unit at Strawberry Point Lutheran Home. Thank you sincerely!
Jack Dittmer has now left the practice field and will be playing 2nd base on a big “diamond” in the sky.