John Ainsworth: an active life


John Ainsworth's 1970 Dodge Challenger, which he cherished

John Robert Ainsworth, 83, of Roscoe, told the story of how the old car he used to own was not always reliable, especially in the winter. One time, after running several miles all the way to work and being late again, he was told if he was late he would be fired. The next time he had trouble with his car, knowing he would never make it, he decided it was time to get a job closer to home. This was when he applied for a job at Sundstrand. He worked at Sundstrand for 50 years. 

John passed away November 23, 2021. 

He was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 25, 1937 to Mary and Jack Ainsworth. John grew up on the south side of Rockford with his brother Ron and sister Char. His parents divorced when he was young and Mary was left to raise the three children by herself. Mary worked hard to keep all of her children together, sometimes working many jobs for very little money. She later married Stephen White. Steve was a wise man of little words but gave John guidance when needed.

In his teen years John worked at a local bowling alley as a pin setter and the Coronado Theater as a usher. At Sundstrand, he became a master electrician. When Sundstrand was bought out by United Technologies, he took the early retirement that he was offered, but ended up being invited back to work in the office for about a year. He was very active in the Sundstrand Association and served as the vice president and president for several years.

At Sundstrand, John participated for many years in their bowling and softball leagues. In addition, John played softball for the Rockford Park District for several years, most recently for the Seniors League. John enjoyed everything about softball. For many years he was a pitcher, but he did not mind catching or playing a base either. After his knee replacements in the early 2000s, John got right back to playing ball as soon as he could. John participated in archery and shooting clubs. John also enjoyed fishing in Canada and Minnesota with family and friends, never as much as he would have liked, but he enjoyed every moment that he was able to get away to these peaceful fishing paradises.

The Ainsworth garden was always massive and produced much to share with everyone. John liked making sugo with his fresh garden ingredients. 

Probably around the early 2000s John converted from a Cubs fan to a Brewers fan. He loved tailgating at the (new) Miller Park. Some of his favorite pastimes were cooking brats, having a beer and hanging out before the game. 

John loved cars and worked on them all his life. He cherished his 1970 Dodge Challenger and attended many car shows such as Mopars on the Mississippi and the Belvidere car shows. John would work on just about anything with an engine.

John’s first daughter Wendy was born in 1957. John met the love of his life Sharon Raney and they were married in 1965. They had two children, Sherrie and Shereen. 

Another love John had was hunting, and he did this with his lifelong friend Bill Stewart. Bill and John owned land up in Montello, Wisconsin and would hunt every fall. Gram would make them her special stew for them to eat, and they would make camp in a tiny trailer on the property.

Another lifelong friend was Abe Summers. John and Abe enjoyed going to auctions and having fun. Abe and John made quite the pair. Both liked making deals and making a buck, but neither really cared about the money they made. As John would say, “Money is not my God.” John had many friends over the years, some have already passed, some came in and out of his life, some were more sports friends, but he cherished all the relationships he had. John was always willing to lend a hand to any of his friends or anyone who needed help. 

After his retirement, his youngest daughter, Shereen, started taking him to farm and estate auctions and he soon caught the reselling bug. Close to twenty years ago, the pair started selling their items at Pec Thing, as well as a local antique shop and online. John loved going to Pec Thing and seeing all of the “old” guys from Sundstrand that would come by. He also made friends with many of the surrounding vendors. He even ventured out to sell at Green County Pickers.

John was a hardworking guy that loved his family very much. In the early years he had more than one job to make sure he provided for his family. Taking vacation days were rare for him. Every year he took Sherrie and Shereen and, when they were old enough, their friends to Six Flags Great America. He doted on all of his granddaughters, watching them by computer when three of them were in Idaho or making monthly trips to Indiana to spend the weekend. He also enjoyed watching Kiara in cheerleading. Being a grandfather made him very happy. 

John was proud of his service to his country in the United States Army. He spent time at Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sheridan, Camp McCoy, Fort Hood, and Fort Irwin.

His family says, "John has left a gaping hole in all of our lives. He had so much more to do and so many people who loved him. His family, his friends, his family's friends all miss him more than we can put into words. No one is ever ready to write one of these and this barely touches on the life of a great man."

John is survived by his wife, Sharon; daughters, Wendy Sanborn, Sherrie (Tim) O’Day, Shereen Ainsworth (Eric Bude); and grandchildren, Andrew, Nathan, Kiara, Genevieve, Adeline, and Josephine. John is also survived by his brother, Ron Ainsworth and sister, Char Draeger.

He was predeceased by his mother, Mary Ainsworth White; stepdad, Stephen C. White Jr.; father, Jack Ainsworth; his special nephew, Ron Schultz; his spoiled pets, Peanut and Mew Mew (and many adopted pets such as Cinnamon and Brandy).

Celebration of life was held from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, October 8, 2022 in Roscoe VFW, 11385 Second St., Roscoe, IL 61073.

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