Obituary of Dr. John Hayden Duffy, DDS
Duffy, John (Jack) Hayden, Dr. DDS
January 26, 1935 - July 6, 2023
Nokomis, FL/McFarland, WI – On his final trip, Jack (Doc) was well prepared, with a toothbrush in pocket, long pants, belt, hat, his favorite shoes and a map. Surrounded in love beyond measure by his family throughout the country, he sent a final Father’s/Grandfather’s blessing on our heads and set out for Heaven on Thursday July 6, 2023, under both a full moon and early sunrise from his home in Florida. He and his beloved wife of 62 years, Helen (Quinlisk) Duffy are now reunited and likely drinking coffee, reading books and showing St. Pete how to brush his teeth.
Jack leaves behind his incredible legacy of seven remarkable children, John (Regina), Bridget, Matt (Sue), Kathleen (Kevin), Patrick (Leslie), Tom (Kathy) and Brian (Tommi). We are certain that he is placing a grandfather’s blessing on the heads of Lindsay Leopold (Arthur) and Erin Secor (Braelyn), Danielle and her children, Benjamin, Carter and Addie; Caitlin (Reed) and their children, Nara, Luella and Reed Thomas (RT); Matthew and his children, Liam, Audrey and Eloise; Jared (Lindsay) and their children, Annabelle, William and Harvey; Keara; Kyle, Sarah and Coley; Molly, Abby and Samuel; Alexis and John Ryan; Hayden, Eily and Teddy, He also is survived through his deceased wife’s siblings, Rita (Larry) Daniels, and John (Nancy) Quinlisk; and a number of loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. During his final four years, Jack’s life was enriched by his loving relationship with Ann (Annie) Cooke. Jack was preceded in death by his beloved wife Helen (Quinlisk) Duffy (62 years); his parents, 1LT John D. Duffy (KIA WWII) and Margaret (Hayden) Duffy; stepfather George “Yutz” Lundgren and brother, Dennis Duffy.
We also want to give special recognition to Jack’s caregivers, Yvonne Green and Susan Badeaux and Gabbi “the good girl”, an amazing service dog that protected dad throughout the journey and on his final night.
Dr. Duffy (Jack) has left the world a better place and will be remembered for many remarkable accomplishments during a long and wondrous full life. Perhaps his most important role was in shepherding, inspiring, guiding, enabling, and setting the conditions for his seven children to become “life enrichers.” Jack and Helen were unrelenting in their service to others. Their wish for their children was that they too have a “spirit of generosity” so that they could lift up and enrich the lives of others. Waking up every day and choosing LOVE and reading Jesus Calling were the cornerstones of living their faith and setting the day for making a difference.
Jack was a leader of movements; in his profession, in the “church”, his community and around the world. Despite resistance on all fronts, he revolutionized the practice of periodontology. He viewed his team as equal and valued members of the practice; he believed that the mind, body and spirit connection mattered in healing and that you should never operate on a stranger. He called every evening to check in on patients that he performed surgery on that day. He also believed in preventive medicine and a realistic yet unconventional method to prevent oral disease. Even though not in his economic favor, he refused to perform surgery if the patient had not learned how to prevent disease in their own mouth first. After becoming fluent in Spanish, he worked tirelessly around the world in underserved countries to give dentists, hygienists, and patients the realistic knowledge on how to take care of their own mouths and to prevent periodontal disease in their communities. In his “retirement” he helped launch the Sonoma Dental Wellbeing Collaborative, a program in low-income communities to help ease their suffering.
In their spiritual life, Jack and Helen believed in “Keep the Faith. Change the Church. They helped launch Mary Mother of Jesus (MMOJ) an all inclusive “catholic” community. When asked in the hospital to what church do you belong, he said, “to the CWB, a church without borders where everyone is welcome.”
In his family, Jack the patriarch and last of his generation of the extended Duffy clan, taught us to honor those who came before us. He showed us how to keep their legacy alive by traveling to Europe with the 70th Infantry Division “Trailblazers” Association. There he retraced with his son and grandsons the steps his father and uncles took during WWII and then documented their story so that generations to come would remember them and know that their lives mattered.
In his community, he fiercely stood up for injustice and worked to make sure that all voices were heard. In the global community he worked alongside others in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Pine Ridge Indian reservation to advance equality, prevent disease and ease the suffering of others.
Until his death, every year in December he placed a rose on Jean Donovan’s grave so her work and the murder of her and the Jesuit priests in El Salvador would not be forgotten. Through his voracious reading he also changed the world. He was a lifelong seeker of knowledge. For over fifty years, he and Helen were proud members of The Mediocre Book Club with lifelong friends where they read, debated, and lively discussed over six hundred books. When there was a poignant message or cause in which he believed; for example, Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out (Kevin Clarke), The Education of an Idealist (Samantha Powers), Tattoos on the Heart and Forgive Everyone For Everything (Greg Boyle), Dinners with Ruth (Nina Totenberg), Hidden Figures (Margot Shetterly) or Make Your Bed (Admiral William McRaven) he took the time to highlight and send the book to you. His wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember and cherish his bedtime readings of the classic Dr. Seuss books, where he typically inflected the character’s voices thus bringing the story to life. And no one could do a better impression of “Donald Duck” than Grandpa.
Jack cherished and was proud of his Jesuit education and graduated with honors from Campion Jesuit High School, Prairie du Chien WI, Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois, School of Dentistry, Chicago, IL. Major Jack Duffy served in the US Army as a Periodontist for eight years and was honorably discharged in August 1965. During this period he completed almost a dozen military moves across the country, with a stint in Okinawa, with a very resilient army wife, Helen Duffy and a growing family, until settling in Madison WI to begin his private career as a periodontist.
With the word retirement not in his vocabulary, Jack split his time between Florida, Sonoma and Wisconsin where he took great pride in perfecting the role of Master Equine Hydrologist at his son’s Belgian Draft Horse farm, Avoidance Acres.
Words cannot describe how much we will miss his love, exceptional wisdom, sense of humor and infamous “Dad/Jackisms” that permeated everything he did. We will especially miss how he always showed up when it mattered like at kids and grandkids sporting events proudly wearing their logo, his Caesar salads, Swedish pancakes, black cows and punk on 4th of July, how he asked every waitperson their name, taught well-seasoned bar tenders how to properly pour a beer into an unfrosted glass and his singing birthday telegrams that were loud but not so much in tune.
A Celebration of Jack’s life will be held Friday September 15, 2023 at Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Hwy M, Middleton, WI. Visitation with family at 10:30 am, service at noon, and a luncheon on-site immediately following. Another celebration of his life with his snowbird and Canadian friends will be held in Nokomis Florida on his birthday January 26, 2024. Location TBD.
Memorials may be made to advance the movement that Jack and Helen led to create an all-inclusive “catholic” community at Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests https://arcwp.org/ and https://marymotherofjesus.net/donations. Also memorials to support his great granddaughter Annabelle and others with special needs can be made at Logan’s Heart and Smiles, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving homes and inspiring hope to families with children with special needs across Wisconsin; https://www.logansheartandsmiles.org/donate/;
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