Nearly 61 years ago, Jean and Louis Hetherington of Beatrice, Nebraska were blessed with the birth of their fourth child, John Francis Hetherington.
Diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after birth, doctors said John probably wouldn’t live much beyond his 16th birthday. On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, just 38 days short of his 61st birthday, John rejoined his beloved parents in Heaven.
Sometime after his third birthday, John moved to the Beatrice State Home, now the Beatrice State Development Center, a difficult decision made by his parents in order to provide John the training he would need to develop. But his mother had been a teacher at the Home and was familiar with what it could do to help John. Elmer Wyant, the highly respected superintendent of the Home, was a family friend and assured John’s parents it was the best move for him.
John stayed at the Beatrice State Home, except weekends, holidays and vacations which he spent with his parents, until he turned 21. At that time, he moved to Crete to live in a group home under the auspices of Nebraska’s Region 5 Development Services.
For the next nearly 40 years, John lived, learned, sometimes worked, and flourished, thanks to the loving care he received from the Region 5 staff. He was able to win numerous medals in the Special Olympics and participate in group travel to national parks, themed amusement parks, ball games, bowling (his favorite sport), and to see family. After Jean and Louie, as John called his Mom and Dad, passed away, John enjoyed spending Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas with one of his older brothers and their families – Dennis and Judy in Las Vegas, Dave and Jeannine in Wisconsin or Florida, and Jim and Colette in Iowa, now of South Carolina.
John’s funeral mass will be 10 AM Saturday, February 17, 2018 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, with burial in the St. Joseph cemetery. His family says this should be treated as a celebration of John’s life. It was a good life and John enjoyed it to its fullest. The body will lie in state Friday from noon-8:00 PM with a scriptural prayer service starting 6:30 PM Friday at the funeral home. Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice is handling the arrangements. You may sign John’s online guest book at www.ghchapel.com.
The family thanks the Region 5 staff in Crete for the many years of devoted care for John, the Hospice, and especially Stephanie Windelin and her family, for making John such a loved part of their family in his last few years.
Finally, please, no flowers. Instead, make a donation to the charity of your choice.