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July 25, 1929 ~ September 24, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old
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John “Jack” Webb Cannon Jr, age 94, of Ripley, Illinois passed away at 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, September 24, 2023 at his home with his family at his side.
He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on July 25, 1929, the son of John Webb Cannon Sr., and his loving mother Carrie (Norman) Cannon. He received his high school diploma from Shelby High School in Shelby North Carolina. Afterwards he studied art at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC for one year before obtaining an Associate in Arts degree from Gardner-Webb College, then enrolling in University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he received a Bachelor of Art degree in 1952. He then went on to receive a Master of Art degree at the George Peabody College for Teachers.
He served active duty in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. Afterwards he met the love of his life, Hildegarde Elsa Plenz while teaching in Corydon, Indiana and the two were wed on June 1, 1957. During this time, Jack grew interested in ceramics, and he and Hildegarde moved to New York, where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Jack and Hildegarde moved multiple times across the country while he sought a suitable tenure track teaching position at the university level. Subsequently he taught at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, North Carolina, Eastern State University in Talequah, Oklahoma, and finally Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois where he taught for thirteen years. Each time they moved, they had a new baby to bring with them – Mary in New York, Stephen in North Carolina, James in Oklahoma, and Howard in Illinois.
In 1976, Jack decided to retire from teaching and moved his family to Ripley, Illinois. With the help of his wife, they opened a business known as Cannon Pottery in 1978. The pottery was unique for this day and age because they would dig, process the clay, and create vessels on the potter’s wheel, and fire and sell their pottery pieces all out of their shop in Ripley. They used the same clay that was mined during the early days of Ripley pottery making beginning in 1836. Jack and Hildegarde continued this tradition for 43 years, supported primarily by the local community, but known throughout the state. Cannon Pottery has been featured in both local and major news publications including the Quincy Herald Whig, Peoria Journal Star, and the Chicago Tribune. As recently as 2022, they were featured in “Illinois Stories”, a public television program presented by WSIU.
Jack had a long and wonderful life. In addition to his art and teaching, he enjoyed blues and classical music, fly fishing, playing bridge and chess, and playing the violin. He also was an avid reader throughout his life and a board member for the Brown County Public Library.
Jack is preceded in death by his parents and his three siblings Jenny Carter, James Cannon, and Martha Dear. He is survived by his wife Hildegarde Cannon, children Mary Ruth Koch (Kenneth) of Mt. Sterling IL, Stephen Cannon (Patricia) of Eureka IL, James Cannon (Lisa) of Palmyra IL and Howard Cannon (Jennifer) of San Jose, CA, as well as his 12 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.
Cremation will be accorded, and a private memorial service is being planned for the family at the Ripley Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Brown County Public Library or Blessing Foundation for Hospice, and may be left at or mailed to the Hendricker Funeral Home, 406 South Capitol Ave., Mt.Sterling, IL 62353.
The Hendricker Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements.