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John Richard Killa

December 3, 1941 ~ January 23, 2018 (age 76)

 John R. Killa, age 76, of Darboy, passed away on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Whenever anyone asked John Killa where he was from, his standard reply was:  “I was born in Milwaukee, raised in Menasha, educated in Chicago and now live in the thriving metropolis of Darboy.” 

His other favorite comment was about the block near his Pine Street home in Menasha.  He said it contained education, salvation, and damnation all in one block.  The block consisted of St. Patrick’s School, St. Patrick’s Church and the Gem Brewery.

John moved to Menasha with his parents when he was about five years old.  At that time because of the war, there was a shortage of apartments in Milwaukee and his parents were forced out of their apartment so the landlord’s daughter would have a place to live.  John’s mother, Marguerite Killa, worked as a surgical and emergency nurse at Theda Clark Hospital.  John’s father, Sebastian “Bud” Killa, worked as a Hydraulic engineer for the Ladish Co. in Milwaukee and the Lawton Co. in DePere.

John’s first job after graduation from Menasha High School was working for “The Hour on Wheels” as a delivery person.  After a year of delivering meals, John spent several years working for the post office in Menasha. He then decided to return to school and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, Goodman Theatre.  During his studies, John performed in Chicago and with the Peninsula Players in Door County during the summers of 1962 through 1965 and again in 1969. He has also performed with Attic Theatre, Appleton; Riverside Players, Neenah; and the Oshkosh Community Players, Oshkosh.  He completed his academic courses at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.  He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Art Institute of Chicago, Goodman Theatre in 1970. 

Since his professional acting career has ended and he moved to Darboy, John has performed with the Kaukauna Community Players, Lawrence University, University of Wisconsin Fox Valley and the Holy Name Drama Club. 

John served two years in the Army attaining the rank of Sergeant.  Most of that time, he was a safety instructor at Headquarters Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany.  During his tour of duty, he continued his acting career winning top honors in 1st Army Competition for his part in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”  He also performed in Heidelberg, doing musicals in English for German audiences. He was very fortunate to be the second of only two Americans to ever sing with the Heidelberg Men’s Chorus and even more fortune to sing with them the year the chorus celebrated their 100th anniversary.

After giving his theatrical career a fair chance, John moved backed to the valley and worked for several employers.  John believed this was the best area in which to live and that the people in the Fox Valley are the most honest people you will ever meet.

In the fall of 1974, John joined the Appleton MacDowell Male chorus and was an active member ever since, serving as music secretary, recording secretary and business manager.  He was currently serving as the Historian for the group.  He felt very privileged to have served as their President for the 1985-86 season.  During the fall of 1975, the MacDowell Male Chorus and Chaminade Women’s Chorus joined forces to present “I Love America” in 1976.  It was during these joint rehearsals in the spring of 1976 that John met Margaret Jochmann.  John and Margaret were married on December 31, 1976 with the Holy Angels adult choir and St. Patrick’s choir joining forces to perform the liturgy for the wedding mass.  John and Margaret spent two years with the choir at St. Patrick’s in Menasha while living in their Town of Menasha apartment.  They moved into their present home on Highway N in 1978 and became members of the Holy Angels adult choir.  In 1995, they joined St. John Nepomucene Parish and joined the Goods News Choir.  They also perform with the funeral choir whenever their schedules permit.  They also belong to the Appleton Inter-Parish Choir that sings for funerals St. Therese, Sacred Heart, St Joseph, St. Mary and St. Bernard.

John joined the Kimberly Knights of Columbus Council in 1992 and became a Fourth Degree member in 1993.  He served as Kimberly’s Grand Knight for the 1994-95 term.  John was proud to be a charter member of the Holy Angels Council #12079.

John was a PFUL member of the American Legion.  He has also served as the Chef De Gare of the Outagamie County 40 et 8 for the 1994-95 term. 


In addition to his wife Margaret, John is survived by his step-mother, Elva, Sturgeon Bay; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Edward Jochmann Jr., Darboy; Sister Rose Jochmann, Green Bay; Francis Jochmann, Sheboygan; Thomas Jochmann, Darboy; Theresa (Dennis) Brown, Darboy; a niece Sara Brown; his God-Son, Jacob (Nikki) Gietman; special cousins, Mike (Carol) Steed, Maryland, Jeff (Edgar) Steed, Arizona; special friends, the Gietman, Schwandt and Smith families; special neighbors: Bill Romenesko, Steve Leitner and Irene Biese; and numerous other musical and non-musical friends.


He was preceded in death by his parents, Bud and Marguerite; father and mother-in-law: Edward and Rosella Jochmann; and a brother-in-law, Paul Jochmann. 


Funeral services for John will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, 323 Pine Street, Little Chute, with Fr. Ron Belitz officiating.  Visitation will be on Friday from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. at the Verkuilen-Van Deurzen Family Funeral Home, 101 Canal Street Little Chute, and also at the church on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass. 


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