John “Rip” Fliszar {1949-2010}

USNA ’71

Known as “Rip” to his friends, John N. Fliszar came to Annapolis from the NROTC unit at the University of Illinois, deciding on majors in both History and Foreign Affairs. While at the Academy, he excelled in football, playing for Navy for four years, including two notable defeats over Army in 1967 and 1970, though his greatest love was fencing. According to the 1971 Lucky Bag “any and every afternoon he could be found in the fencing loft rattling his sabre.”

2ndLt John “Rip” Fliszar USNA '71 in Pensacola
2ndLt John “Rip” Fliszar USNA ’71 in Pensacola

“Rip/slash” became the basis of his nickname, further influenced by “ripcord” while training as a Marine aviator at Pensacola; when asked to choose his flight call name, he nostalgically decided upon “Ripper.” He was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, where he endeared himself by grilling American-style steak dinners for locals and treasured a pet Akita named after his former fencing coach at USNA. His last duty station was at Marine Barracks Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida. As difficulties with his gait caused by a wounded ankle increased, as they would throughout his life, John realized the time would come where he would not be able to pass physical standards, and he left the Corps in 1978. The loss of his military career left a wound that never entirely healed.

After leaving the Marine Corps, John worked in hardware management in Chicago, Indiana and Florida. His passion however was horticulture, and after earning his Master Gardener certification, he ran his own landscaping company, John Fliszar and Associates Nursery and Landscaping, in Orlando for many years. He is remembered by his family and friends for his seemingly infinite knowledge of military history, his burly but warmly gentle manner and by his uniquely sonorous, deeply resonant bass voice that he humorously dubbed his “secret weapon.”

John "Rip" Fliszar USNA ’71 (L) with husband Mark Ketterson
John “Rip” Fliszar USNA ’71 (L) with husband Mark Ketterson

John N. Fliszar died of natural causes on 17 July 2010 at home in Chicago, Illinois, where he was originally from. He was 61 years old. Fliszar is survived by his husband, Mark Thomas Ketterson; mother, Dorothy Loretto Fliszar; sister, Judy Fliszar Gulyas; his twin children, Shanna and John Jr.; nephew, Michael; and the memories of his brother, Gary M. Fliszar and partner Henry Williams. His remains are to be interred in the columbarium at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, in fulfillment of an ardently desired final destiny well known to those who loved him.

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