1945 to 2020

A taste for adventure

John Terrence Rourke—a man with tremendous financial acumen, a sparkling wit, and a taste for adventure—passed away from complications of COVID-19 at North Kansas City Hospital, MO, on Friday, November 27, 2020. He was 75.

Born September 23, 1945, in Wilmington, DE, to John A. Rourke, Jr. and Regina (McCollum) Rourke, John was the oldest of seven children. He and his four brothers and two sisters were raised in a rowdy, close-knit, Irish Catholic family and remained close all their lives.

In John’s early years, due to his father’s work as a pioneer in computer programming technology, the Rourkes moved to several states before settling in Omaha, NE, where John attended Cathedral High School and played on the football team. Following graduation in 1964, he joined the US Army and served as a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 1967 to 1971.

John and his BSA

John met Bernice Wordekemper at an event with friends in Omaha. He and his BSA motorcycle made quite an impression on Bernie, as Bernice was called. They married September 10, 1971 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fremont, NE and made their home in Omaha.

After graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Nebraska in 1974, John—a data-driven, fact-based guy—went on to receive his CPA in 1976. A long-time member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts, he spent the majority of his career in the financial industry in various executive roles. His positions included Bank Controller for Norwest Bank, First National Bank, Vice President for Intrust Bank and President of American National Bank.

Bernie and John in 1971

A great communicator and public speaker, John had a winning way of listening and interacting with others that empowered them. Able to strike up a conversation on just about any subject, he was always learning and thoroughly enjoyed passing along knowledge.

He also loved to surprise others with random acts of kindness.

Over the moon

John was over the moon with the birth of their two sons, Brian in 1972 and Aaron in 1975. A devoted dad, he made every effort to attend his sons’ sporting events and instilled in them a lifelong love of football, baseball, and basketball. Their education was important to him.

For John, big family gatherings meant everything, especially at the holidays. He enjoyed socializing and treasured memorable conversations and experiences. His holiday ritual, whether Thanksgiving or Christmas, was to call family members, including all his many siblings, to ask what their plans were. He never wanted to miss a thing,

Along with the joy of taking his sons and grandsons on “guy trips” to special sporting events around the country, John relished traveling and experiencing the wonders of the world. He was especially proud of the certificate he earned after climbing the Bridge Walk in Sydney, Australia in 2019.

Not for anxious souls

Climbing the towering bridge takes about three and a half hours and affords a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor—so long as you’re not afraid of perilous heights. The rush of traffic is clearly visible beneath the crisscross of metal, sometimes proving too much for anxious souls.

Not John. He loved it!

In 2008, John and Bernie moved to Kansas City, MO to be closer to their sons and grandsons. He spent numerous hours with them enjoying football, basketball, and baseball games and taking them on trips. He was a hands-on grandfather.

Along with serving on the boards of the YMCA and United Way, John volunteered at many Kansas City entertainment venues, including Kaufmann Center for the Preforming Arts, Folly Theater, Starlight Theater, and The Irish Festivals.

He enjoyed history, reading, socializing with family, friends, and anyone who liked to chat. He spent the past few years working in the fitness area at the Gladstone Community Center and helped with the Gladstone Park and Recreation Events.  John always had a smile, joke, or a witty remark to connect with all.

John and his beloved Bernie remained happily married for 49 years.

Act of kindness in John’s memory

John is survived by his wife, Bernice; two sons, Brian and Aaron (Cherie—favorite daughter in law), and his three grandchildren, John Anthony, Elijah, and Keenan. Also four brothers and two sisters: Dennis (Ann) Rourke; Omaha, NE, children: Sean and Shannon; Michael (JoAnn) Rourke, Omaha, NE, children: Corey and Ryan; Marie Rourke; Omaha, NE, children: Elizabeth, Nancy, Robert, Jr, and Geoffrey; Douglas (Paulette) Rourke; Omaha, NE, children: Tim and Katie; Patty (Gene) Shultz; Cedar Rapids, IA, children: Travis, Ryan, Gina and Jonathan; Timothy (Mary) Rourke; Omaha, NE.

The family would like to recognize all the health care workers who took great care of John at North Kansas City Hospital. They went above and beyond by showing kindness, compassion, and keeping the family informed.

We want to also acknowledge our families, friends, and acquaintances for all their prayers and many words of comfort.  John will be remembered “as one of a kind”.

In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates donations be sent to Holy Family Youth Ministry (919 NE 96th Street, Kansas City, MO 64155) or donations to

Better yet, perform a random act of kindness in his memory to provide others support and happiness at this time.

A Celebration of Life and a gravesite burial is postponed at this time.




1 Comment

  1. Katharine Lowrie

    Loved helping Brian with his dad’s tribute! John definitely was “one of a kind.”

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