Jack Jermaine Thaw III, aka, JJ, passed away at his home in Newton, Kansas on Wednesday, February 19, 2018 from an unknown illness. He was 45 years old. JJ was a loving son, a devoted brother, an adored uncle and cousin, and a loyal friend who was liked and loved by many. He was all about his family and loved them more than anything, yet he had enough love to spread throughout his community and to those who knew him. He had a gift for working with special needs children and children with disabilities, troubled youth and young wrestlers. He had a heart of gold and an infectious grin.
JJ worked for USD 373 as a para educator in the Special Ed department. JJ was also known to many as Coach JJ as he has been an assistant wrestling coach the past 15 years. He inspired many young lives through his passion for wrestling. He believed in them and taught many to believe in themselves. He was the definition of loyalty to his family and to his wrestlers. Although he was blunt, you could count on his word being the truth.
JJ was born on January 3, 1973 to Jack Thaw Jr and JoAnne (Torres) Thaw in Alamosa, Co., the oldest of four children. He attended St. Mary Catholic School for 9 years and was a 1991 Newton High graduate. JJ attended Labette Community College on a wrestling scholarship and then transferred to Fort Hays State where he was a member of the wrestling team. He was employed at Youthville (Ember Hope now) for more than 20 years and has been employed by the Newton school district since November of 2003.
JJ was a successful Newton wrestler. He was in the state finals 3 of his 4 years winning the championship his senior year. He continued his love of wrestling in college and became an assistant coach for Newton High School, as well as assisting his dad for one year when Jack Thaw was the interim coach. JJ was passionate about wrestling and sports. His friends and co-workers called him a ‘walking encyclopedia’ of sports facts and stats.
As much as JJ loved wrestling and working in the Special Ed department he was most passionate about his family. His sister described him as her ‘personal body guard growing up and one of her biggest fans in her life’. He was always so proud of his siblings, his family and all their accomplishments. JJ was the doting uncle always talking about his nieces and nephews, always eager to collect more pictures and show them off. He never minded asking his family and friends to take a picture of him with them during gatherings and you could count on him to find a place to display them in his home. He was the unofficial family historian. It’s not surprising that JJ could tell you when and where each photo was captured. JJ was a proud uncle and made each of his nieces and nephews feel special and loved. He always greeted his mother and family with a kiss on the cheek and a hug and did the same to say goodbye.
Preceding JJ in death was his grandfather, Jack Thaw Sr., grandmothers, Mary Duncan and Emma Romero, two maternal uncles and one aunt in the last two years, two paternal uncles and three aunts. JJ is survived by his father, Jack Thaw Jr, his mother, JoAnne Thaw, brother, Justin Thaw of Newton, Ks, sisters Jahree’ Rager and husband Byron of KY, Jenee’ Baytop of CA, his four nieces Toria Thaw, Aryanna Baytop, Jazmon Baytop, Ava Rager and 2 nephews Malcolm Baytop and Aiden Rager, his grandmothers Odessa Thaw of Goessel Kansas, Maurine Sanford of Fort Collins, Co. and grandparents Alex and Carol Torres of Lafayette, Colorado. Also his uncle Donald Thaw (Veronica) of Newton, aunt, Jan Sanford of Valley Center and dozens of loving cousins.
He will be greatly missed by his family and throughout the community. Although JJ was only 45 years old, he made a lasting impact on those in his community and touched the lives of those who knew him and loved him. What a great legacy to leave behind.
Funeral Mass will be 2:00 p.m., Thursday, March 1, 2018 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church with The Reverend Juan Garza celebrant. Recitation of the Rosary will be 6:00 p.m., Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. The family will receive friends following Rosary in The Guadalupe Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Burial will be in the Greenwood Cemetery Newton, Kansas.
Memorials are suggested to Newton High School Athletics and Gymnastics in care of Petersen Funeral Home.