Jack Wallace

Obituary: Roseville activist Wallace called 'model for citizens'

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 - 12:34 am

Jack Wallace, a military veteran who served Roseville as a civic advocate, neighborhood leader and teacher, died Monday of colon cancer, his family said. He was 82.

Mr. Wallace settled in Roseville in 1975 after 27 years in the Air Force, notably as a Russian linguist during the height of the Cold War. After earning a master's degree in Russian and a teaching credential from UC Davis, he taught languages in Roseville high schools from 1983 to 1998 and was a substitute teacher until recently.

As president of the Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, he spoke out publicly on quality of life issues. He helped residents in different areas form associations and was president of the Cresthaven Neighborhood Association.

He was a fixture at City Hall as a civic leader and activist. Besides four years on the Planning Commission, he served on the city's Project Review Board and on advisory groups on campaign finance reform, traffic and growth. He ran unsuccessfully for Roseville City Council three times, urging slow growth as development boomed in recent decades.

Although he frequently challenged city leaders, Mr. Wallace was dedicated to the democratic process. He spent hours reading city staff reports and spoke at many City Council meetings. A parliamentary expert, he advocated transparency in government and helped others understand rules and procedures for conducting public meetings.

"Jack was the epitome of an informed citizen," Mayor Susan Rohan said. "He had a passion for being informed about what was happening in the community and taking the time to inform the decisions of the council before the council took action."

The third of eight sons raised by sharecroppers, Jack Donald Wallace was born in 1931 in Broken Bow, Okla. He moved at age 2 with his family to Cooter, Mo., and picked cotton as soon as he could walk.

"They were very poor, and he always wanted to get a good education," said his wife, Marge. "He read a lot in his early years, and he always wanted to have a better life."

Mr. Wallace joined the Air Force at 17 and took college courses while serving as a military police officer. After officials recognized his aptitude for languages, he began studying Russian at Syracuse University in New York, where he met his wife. They married in 1963 and had two sons.

He spent 16 years as a Russian linguist in the intelligence service and was stationed at remote radar sites in Europe and the Philippines. He earned a bachelor's degree in Russian from a University of Maryland program in Germany. He retired as a master sergeant in 1975.

Last Wednesday, the Roseville City Council voted to honor Mr. Wallace's civic contributions by affixing a plaque with his name to a chair in the council chambers. It's only the second time the council has bestowed the honor, Rohan said.

"Somebody like Jack who keeps plowing through the civic process is how you own your government," the mayor said. "He's a model for citizens and a reminder for council members to go out into the community and listen to the people we represent."


Born: Jan. 17, 1931

Died: Feb. 18, 2013

Survived by: Wife, Marge of Roseville; sons, Bryan of Visalia, and David of Reno; brother, Tom of Exeter; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren

Services: Funeral, 2 p.m. today at Centerpoint Community Church, 515 Sunrise Ave., Roseville

Remembrances: Donations may be made to Centerpoint Community Church or to Loving Angels In-Home Care.

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