John Arthur Iacovino Profile Photo
1936 John Arthur Iacovino 2024

John Arthur Iacovino

March 1, 1936 — May 11, 2024

John Arthur Iacovino

1 March 1936 – 11 May 2024

John Iacovino, after several weeks of declining health, died peacefully in his own home, surrounded by his family.

John leaves Jo Ellen, his wife of 65 years, and their children: Anthony Iacovino and his wife, Estelle; Julie Whallen and her husband, Andrew; Gabrielle Fernandez and her husband, Raul; and Susannah Enkema and her husband, David; and nine grandchildren Zoe and John Iacovino; Madeline, Nick and Joseph Whallen; JP, Anna and Olivia Enkema; and Maria Fernandez. He is survived by his late brother Anthony Joseph Iacovino’s family, his sister Genevieve Santoli and her family, his sister Lucille Humphreys and her family, and his sister Mary Anne Griffiths and her family. John leaves many nieces and nephews on both sides of his family and a constellation of dear friends, neighbors and extended family who will miss him in so many ways.

John was born into a close-knit Italian American family to Anthony Senatro and Lucy Marino Iacovino in Utica, New York, who taught him the values of hard work and devotion to his family and community. As the second son of five siblings, he helped with their family farm and business, and learned hunting and fishing with his father and brother. When he was a child, his grandparents ran a small grocery store. His paternal grandmother who only spoke Italian adored him and gave him sweet espresso when he was five, to his mother’s dismay. In elementary school he excelled at science and mathematics, and he skipped one grade. Through high school he worked with his brother, Anthony, at his father’s John Street Garage. He was a lifelong Yankees fan and one of his fondest memories was traveling into the city with his father, brother and Uncle Paul to attend mass at the cathedral and then a game at Yankees stadium before taking the train back home. With an interest in chemistry, he graduated as valedictorian of Proctor High School at age 17.

He was accepted to Annapolis, but his glasses made him ineligible to pass the vision test for pilot’s training. With an academic scholarship, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Completing his chemical engineering degree in 1957, he pursued a career in nuclear engineering. John moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to work at K-25, separating uranium through gaseous diffusion. At K-25 he met Jo Ellen Rowan, the love of his life, and they married in 1959 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oak Ridge. Their wedding reception was the first of what would be a long run of great parties.

Early in his professional career, John served in the U.S. Army Reserves. He received basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. An excellent shot, he was even sharper off the range. His familiarity with cars, engines and a love of driving would serve him throughout his career.

John and Jo’s first two children were born in Oak Ridge before he moved for a time to Kokomo, Indiana, to work with Union Carbide in their Stellite division. In 1970 with two more children, John and his young family moved back to the lakes and hills of east Tennessee to start his own business. Using his training as a chemical engineer and his familiarity with the industry, he started his business as a corrosion specialist and problem solver, providing corrosion-resistant coatings, paint and pipe systems to TVA and other industries in the southeast. His products protect everything from water towers and highway bridges to dairy floors and nuclear power plants. He even sold the paint for the base of the Sunsphere.

John was a devoted member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. For many years he donated wine for the fall festival, and he shared his mother’s sauce recipe for spaghetti night. John formed the wine committee for the Friends of the Smokies, and he presided over many spirited wine auctions and fundraiser wine seminars for the Arts Center.

John’s love of good food and the fine people who produce it made him a regular fixture at the Farmers Market well into his 80s. He was a longstanding member of the Rotary Club and Elks Club. He and Jo were active in the community and had many friends across East Tennessee.

John’s many skills and interests led to wide-ranging pastimes and even more friendships. A childhood interest in airplanes and his dream of being a military pilot led him to get his private pilot’s license in the early 70s. First with a club and then as a part owner in his own plane, he realized his love of flight. He flew as far west California and east to the Bahamas on several trips. He used his Piper Comanche for business trips around the south and family vacations north to his childhood home in New York.

John and Jo enjoyed travel with trips from the Caribbean to Alaska and Ireland to Italy. One of their trips to France introduced him to winemakers of the Burgundy region and eventually to be inducted into the Ducal Order of the Cross of Burgundy, a first for an American and one of his proudest achievements. He served as Grand Senechal and Grand Senechal Emeritus of the Cross of Burgundy. His love of fine food and fine wine enriched many of his celebrations, and he and Jo entertained at their home graciously and frequently. John generously shared his knowledge of all things but especially his love of wine and its production. He would often host wine seminars for fundraisers. He taught many people about the wines of the world, a perfect mix of chemistry and people. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject made many lasting friendships and enlivened many celebrations with his wide-ranging storytelling and effusive introductions and toasts.

John loved UT sports and had football and Lady Vol basketball season tickets and paid for five degrees for his children. His pride in his children and eagerness to volunteer brought his skills and talents to rowing. The development of Oak Ridge as a training destination for the eastern U.S. allowed him to share his officiating experience as a judge referee and chief referee at regattas for high school and collegiate teams. John was president of the Oak Ridge Rowing Association for many years. In 1996, he was a judge referee for rowing at the XXVI Olympic Games in Atlanta, another of his proudest achievements.

Devoted to his family and nine grandchildren, he proudly shared their many achievements and offered his support. From music to sports to academics, he celebrated them equally and extensively. His toasts at gatherings with family and friends were epic and memorable. His outlook on the world was always through the lens of all the people he ever knew, and all the friends he had yet to meet.

The family will receive friends at Mott-McKamey Funeral Home, 1017 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, TN 37830, on Friday, July 5, from 4–6 p.m. The funeral mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 327 Vermont Ave., Oak Ridge, TN 37830, will be on Saturday, July 6, at 10:45 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Arthur Iacovino, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services


Friday, July 5, 2024

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Saturday, July 6, 2024

Starts at 10:45 am (Eastern time)

St Mary's Catholic Church

327 Vermont Ave, Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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