In Memory

John W. Johnette VIEW PROFILE

Jan 19, 1927 - Oct 2, 2015

Age 88

Preceded in death by wife, Norma. Survived by sons Ron and Gerald; daughter-in-law Julie; grandsons Michael (Cherish) Johnette; Jeffrey (Kimberly) Johnette; great-grandchildren Trenton, Madison and Isaac all of Omaha.

John was Burke high school's first basketball and baseball coach and led the Bulldogs basketball to state championships in 1977 and 1986, and the baseball team to a state championship in 1970.  He was inducted into both the Omaha Metro, Nebraska Coaches Association and the National Coaches Hall of Fame.  John was awarded the Nebraska School Activities Association Outstanding Service Award in basketball.  He touched so many people's lives in sports, church, and the community.  He will be deeply missed by friends and especially those that called him dad/grandpa/great- grandpa J.

PRIVATE GRAVESIDE SERVICE was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Family request memorials to be made to the John Johnette Memorial Fund c/o Gerald Johnette.

CROSBY BURKET SWANSON GOLDEN Colonial Chapel 11902 W. Center Rd 402-333-7200


Burke's Johnette wore job on his sleeve

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 5:55 am


John Johnette will be buried Wednesday in his Burke High basketball coaching shirt.  "When he gets to heaven, they never would recognize Dad in a suit," daughter-in-law Julie Johnette said.

Johnette, who retired in 1988 with two state titles after starting the Burke program, died Friday at his home. He was 88.  A private graveside service will be held Wednesday. There was no visitation.

Johnette was a well-respected coach known widely across the state. His basketball teams compiled a record of 292-251.  "He was one of the good guys," retired Millard South coach Larry Ribble said.  Gary Graner, who coached for Johnette before taking over as head coach when Johnette retired, remembered how the coach and his wife, Norma, looked out for the Graners when they came from a small Iowa town.  "They were like another set of grandparents for our kids," Graner said.

Johnette was one of nine children who grew up on farms near Elwood and Stamford. He graduated from Stamford High and the University of Nebraska.  He coached junior varsity teams eight years at Omaha Benson before working two years as director of the Omaha Boys Club.

In 1988, now-retired Burke Athletic Director Richard Cotton remembered the conversation he had with Johnette when new Beveridge Junior-Senior High needed a coach for its debut season of 1963-64.  "He asked me what he would coach, " Cotton said. "I told him that he would be the head football coach, the head basketball coach and the head baseball coach. 'I think I'm the right man for the job,' he said."  Besides coaching the Bulldogs to state basketball titles in 1977 and 1986, the biology teacher took them to the spring Class A baseball championship and the summer Legion championship, playing in the Junior World Series in Klamath Falls, Oregon, in 1970.

Julie Johnette said some of those baseball players held a reunion this past summer that the coach attended.  "They got to see Dad again, and he was so pleased," she said.

At the time of his retirement, Johnette said Burke's administrators had let him follow his philosophy of putting individual growth ahead of winning records.  "I remember when I applied for the job, I said I wanted to put God first, players second, family third, school fourth and parents fifth," he said.

Johnette is in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He's also in the Nebraska High School Sports and Omaha Public Schools Athletic Halls of Fame.

His two sons, Gerald and Ron, followed their father into coaching. His wife died in 1998, shortly before his induction into the national coaches hall.  He chose not to accept the award in person.  "I considered myself and Norma a team," he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1041,


A role model for all ages

A thank you to The World-Herald for its Oct. 7 article, “Burke’s Johnette wore job on his sleeve.”  Anyone who knew John Johnette, who died recently, knew he was all about people.

In 1969, Jane Haas, a young terrific English teacher, came to Omaha’s Burke High.  A few years into her teaching career Jane was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was forced to leave teaching.  She eventually moved back to Peoria, Illinois, to live with her parents.  Every month, even during basketball season, John drove the roughly 400 miles to Illinois to visit Jane.  He continued these weekend trips until Jane died.

John was a wonderful role model for the students and those of us who taught at Burke High.

Dave Haar, Omaha

Click here to see John W.'s last Profile entry.