Richard Nevins was smart. Finishing 88th in the
Class of 1961, out of 534 graduates, was really not sufficiently indicative of
how talented academically Jack really was. Those of us who lived with him knew
that he was on top of every academic area and did so with a minimum amount of
effort because he was always helping others, especially his roommates, stay
ahead of the Dean’s forces.
Jack grew up in Olean, NY and retained an affinity for that
area. He was forever a follower of the teams of St. Bonaventure University.
After three years at the local high school, Jack went to Admiral Farragut
Academy in Florida for his senior year and then went to Sullivan Prep School,
where he finished first in his class. Jack’s brother Bruce (USMA 1960) had
elected a military education, and Jack decided to follow in the path blazed by
his older brother.
At West Point Jack excelled in academics, tolerated the
military aspects of the regimen, and was a premier participant in
extracurricular activities. He served in key positions on the Pointer and the
Howitzer, although he was mostly an untitled leader, adviser, and idea person.
Actually, while others often had a byline on Pointer articles, in reality most
of the wording came from Jack’s pen. He was a leader in the activities of the
Debate Council and Forum, and that experience contributed to what later became
Jack’s key role in our Army.
After graduation Jack was commissioned in the Field Artillery.
He served first in Germany as a battery officer and commander in the 81st
Field Artillery. Then, after the career course, he served in Vietnam, first as
an artillery advisor, and then with the Americal Division. Upon returning he
was selected to be an instructor in the elite Department of Social Studies at
West Point, preceded by acquisition of an MPA and doctoral work at Syracuse
After his USMA assignment, Jack completed the Command and
General Staff College and served for a year with I Corps in Korea. He
graduated and then taught for five years at the National War College. In the
Washington, DC environment Jack’s talent and expertise were recognized, and he
was assigned as special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. Jack’s major contributions were in the area of drafting legislation and
supporting the process that led to reorganization of the Joint Staff system to
provide more meaningful input by the JCS to the defense policy-making system.
After serving for two Chairmen, upon his retirement, Jack’s service was
recognized in truly extraordinary praiseworthy remarks from General Jack
From 1982 until 1990 Jack worked for BDM Corporation as
director of command, control, communications and intelligence systems. He
traveled from Washington to many military units, helping each move into the
digital age. Later, Jack moved to California and worked for the Internal
Revenue Service as an economist and business enterprise valuation specialist.
Jack was an investor and consultant in “brother Bruce’s” venture, Dutcher
Crossing Winery (Dry Creek Vineyard, Sonoma County, CA), where he and wife
Barbara attended and worked (poured at) several winery events.
Jack’s parents, Emily and Marshall, were avid and expert bridge
players. Jack too became a world class competitor in contract bridge, and that
avocation marked Jack’s life everywhere he went and served. Ever the
instructor, Jack deigned to play bridge with his classmates and friends,
notwithstanding their skill level, and every such event resulted in an
education for those who did not realize how simple the game could be when
explained by Jack.
While serving in Germany, Jack met and married Joanne Bates.
They had two children, Susanne and Elizabeth. Later, Jack was divorced. Years
later, in 2006 in California after retiring, Jack re-met Barbara, his high
school sweetheart from Olean. They married and played lots of bridge. Jack and
Barbara both achieved “Life Master” bridge status, the highest award requiring
points in regional and national tournaments. Together they had many very happy
years together before she died in 2016. With Barbara, Jack acquired and became
part of another family, which included step-children Devery and Dan and
step-grandchildren A.J., Kellyn, Mary and Jessica.
Jack was funny and smart. He always had a quip or a joke and a
ready smile. He was a terrific friend, and the memory of him will be a
blessing for each of us.
— D. Peter Gleichenhaus