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John "Jack" David Spillum

October 29, 1935 November 23, 2018
John   "Jack" David Spillum
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Obituary for John "Jack" David Spillum

John “Jack” David Spillum, died in Tokyo, Japan on Friday, November 23, 2018 at the age of 83, after years of struggling with Parkinson’s disease.
Jack Sr. hailed from Larimore, North Dakota where he was born on October 29, 1935 and graduated from Larimore High School in 1953. He helped pave the runway of the Grand Forks Air Force Base one summer as a teen. Throughout his life he was proud to have come from North Dakota. After his tour in South Korea, at the advice of his older brother Walt, he landed in Tokyo circa 1957 and found his Shangri-la. He taught English to the hungry locals, met his wife, and welcome a son, Jack, Jr. and a daughter, Lea, in the mid-60’s. He claimed he was the first non-Japanese to grace the trading floor of the then exploding Tokyo Stock Exchange and flourished at Sanyo Securities and Schroders in the 70’s and 80’s. He jumped into housing at Lindal Cedar Homes in the post-bubble 90’s with mixed results but eventually found his niche in financial language-teaching for his remaining years and was always astute in quasi-professional finance market analysis (though his own investment track record remains a mystery). His art of the gab was legendary and enjoyed a good exchange with friends and strangers, filled with dry Scandinavian wit. On many evenings, he could be found at the Open Table of the Press Club (Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan) with his glass of white wine, and known for his hilarious stints as the bingo announcer there. 
He was a voracious reader and his command of the English language was both a blessing and a curse – he regularly corrected his son's poor diction/expressions until the very end! His son's love for science fiction rose out of their many movie nights as a kid – Soylent Green, Zardoz, Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, and so many more. When his 10-yr old son became obsessed with James Bond, he took him to a double-header at a porn theater in downtown Tokyo and just told him not to look at the trailers. He joined a gym in the 80’s only to jump-rope for stretches of 15-20 minutes at a time, walked all over Tokyo as exercise, and steamed whole heads of cauliflower for dinner way before the American health craze. His son was always amazed at his unstoppable work ethic, as he barely took a grand total of two months off his whole life as vacation. 
While Jack, Jr.’s mom lived by unquestionable rights and wrongs, Jack, Sr. encouraged his son to engage with people as a way to embrace life’s joys and complexities. He was proudest of his son's reverse migration and then finding his heart in New York, as Jack, Sr. had had in Tokyo, an ocean away from his homeland in North Dakota.
He made an indelible impression on everyone he met, helped, and drew laughter from on both sides of the Pacific. A memorial night was held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Toyko on November 30th, 2018. Jack will be interred in the Spillum family plot in Persilla Watts Cemetery in Rugby, North Dakota, in the spring of 2019. “Grandpa Tokyo” will be missed.


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