Published: July 10, 2007
John Edward “Jack” Whistance, a well-known dealer and an authority on early American antiques who for more than 50 years ran Lock, Stock, and Barrel Antiques with his wife MaryEllen, died at Benedictine Hospital on Saturday, July 7, after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 85.
Jack was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on November 1, 1921, the son of Elizabeth Phin “Betty” Nicoll and John Edward “Eddie” Whistance of Queens, N.Y. During World War II and the Korean conflict, Jack worked in the aircraft industry. While employed by Republic Aircraft on Long Island, he worked on the F84F Thunderstreak.
Jack moved to Kingston in 1954 and started his antiques business soon after. Jack became widely recognized as an authority on toy marbles, early blown glass, colonial period country furniture and early American folk art. He generously shared his knowledge with all those who associated with him.
In 1959, Jack wrote: “The study and collecting, and most important of all, the use, of antiques can give us a more rewarding contact with the past. Through association with these lovely old things, the crackling of a log on old fire-dogs or the cozy comfort of an old wing chair, we can by some subtle alchemy feel the influence of the men and women who made and used them. It is a good and joyful thing to feel this connection with those before us. It seems to affirm God’s promise of immortality to man. …
“[Antiques give pleasure] because they mean something. They exude an atmosphere that age alone can give. They are rich in association, and if you understand them and their history, you also will be rich in treasure that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.”
Jack had a great appreciation of nature and was notable for his ability to identify obscure species of birds, reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats. He was also an accomplished artist and a jazz singer who performed jazz standards using the name Johnny Bruce. He was an authority on early phonograph recordings of jazz, blues and classical vocals, and continued to sing and record as a hobby until just before his death.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, MaryEllen, whom he married in Queens on August 26, 1944. A son Bruce, daughter-in-law Gail, and twin sons Andrew and Bradley also survive.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Jack Whistance to The Friends of the Forsyth Nature Center, c/o The Kingston Parks and Recreation Department, 467 Broadway, Kingston NY 12401.
A memorial service will take place at 11 am Saturday, July 14, at A. Carr & Son Funeral Home, 65 Lucas Avenue, Kingston.
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