Jack Vann passed away in his sleep early on Saturday morning, April 15th. He is now with his Lord & Savior in Heaven. “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) Jack was born on February 24, 1940 in Abingdon, Virginia. Jack and Kathie were married for over 58 years. They have three sons: Thomas J. Vann (married to Lisa C. Vann), John M. Vann (married to Lydia C. Vann; daughter is Lydia G. Vann), and Mark R. Vann (son is Marshall Vann)
Jack grew up in Abingdon, Virginia which is a small and quaint town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains in extreme Southwest Virginia. He was the son of James Claudius Vann and Martha Rhea Vann who were originally from Greeneville, Tennessee. Jack’s father was an entrepreneur and a talented marketer and businessman. He started a tobacco Warehouse Business in Abingdon and also had warehouses and a pecan farm in Vidalia Georgia where Jack was to spend many summers working in the warehouse lifting 100 pound bales of tobacco and drinking bottles of coke and pecans. Jack’s father was nicknamed “Bub” and was loved by the farmers who sold their tobacco at his warehouses. Jack had many amazing stories about his time growing up in Abingdon. He had many animals including a talking parrot, flying squirrels and rabbits and chickens and a monkey.
Jack went to grade school in Abingdon and then attended the Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Jack excelled at football and wrestling and had a passion for sports which carried through his entire life. Jack was runner up to the state championship for wrestling while he was at TMI.
Jack attended Duke University for his first year in college and played football but sustained an injury. He transferred to the University of Virginia and graduated with a degree in Psychology. After graduation he served as a Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer in the U.S. Navy and did some tours of southeast Asia. While he was in the U.S. Navy he met Kathie Byrne as a result of a blind date for the color guard ceremony. They were married in Cleveland, Ohio on January 2, 1965. After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, he received an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
After Graduation from Darden, Jack and Kathie moved to Hartford Connecticut where he worked for Heublein Corporation as an acquisitions analyst. Jack and Kathie subsequently moved to back to Cleveland in the spring of 1970 where he took a position as General Manager at Basic Aluminum Castings’ Wedgelock Division that was founded by Tom Byrne, Kathie’s father. Wedgelock built die casting machines and did tool & die work and prototyping. He subsequently formed Visi-Trak in 1981 to focus entirely on process monitoring and control. Jack had a hunger to learn and a passion for die casting. He had a relentless drive to innovate to help die casters improve the process. But Jack’s greatest quality was his love and care for his employees. Visi-Trak was always like a family to him. As he always said “Visi-Trak is the people”. Jack had a deep commitment and appreciation for the North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) going all the way back to its predecessor organizations in the 1970’s. He attended every trade show from the 1970’s all the way through 2020.
Jack was given multiple awards from NADCA including the Doehler Award and the Nyselius Award. The Doehler Award is presented annually for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the die casting industry or to the art of die casting. The Nyselius Award, established in 1965 by the Nyselius Foundation, recognizes exceptional technical contributions to the industry.
Jack and his friend Milton Hayakawa loved to travel to Japan together for business. It was his favorite place to visit. He traveled there many times in his career and attended every Japanese die casting show until recently. Jack also loved sports, especially college football and basketball. He was very excited to finally see the University of Virginia Mens’ Basketball Team win the National Championship in 2019. He passed along his love for sports, especially football to his three sons, Tom, John, and Mark who all played for Solon High School. Jack embraced Cleveland as his home, but he always longed to get back to Virginia as much as possible and would make long trips to Charlottesville in the fall to attend UVA football games. When people asked where he was from he would proudly say “Virginia”. Jack was a loving husband and father of unconditional love, patience and spiritual support. Prayer and reflection on the promises in Scripture were a big part of his life. His faith carried him through some overwhelming trials that he faced. He faced many challenges as an entrepreneur and his ability to persevere against all odds has been an inspiration to our family and his employees and associates.
A graveside funeral service will be held on Sunday April 30th at 2:00 p.m. at KnollKreg Memorial Park in Abingdon, VA.
A second graveside service will be held at KnollKreg Memorial Park in Abingdon, VA on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 2:00 PM. A memorial service will be held at the family’s church in Cleveland, OH and with the day and time pending.