starks logo
Honorable John  Dewane

Honorable John E. Dewane

January 29th, 1940 - October 14th, 2021

Honorable John's Obituary

 The Honorable John Edward Dewane passed away peacefully on October 14, 2021 in St.Joseph, Michigan.  John was one of a kind and will be deeply missed.

 John was born in Menominee, Michigan on January 29, 1940 to Francis and Rose[Schmidt] Dewane who preceded him in death. His sisters, Mary (Thein) and Carol (Bundy) also preceded him in death.

 “Big John”, as he was lovingly referred, was a wonderful man with the highest standards of integrity.  He loved being surrounded by his many friends and family.  Whether at a U of M football tailgate, standing aside his big Weber grill or sitting on his kitchen bench, he held court by telling colorful tales for hours on end.

His first love, however, was his wife of 56 years, Barrie.  Together they raised their two children in his dream home overlooking Lake Michigan.  His love for travel took the family around the world, providing his children with an education beyond the classroom.  Although he spent his childhood as a Yooper, Barrie and he purchased a family cottage in Northport, Michigan where he spent hours in his leather recliner looking at Traverse Bay.   

Learning and education were of utmost importance to Big John.  After graduating from Menominee High School in 1959, John attended The University of Michigan where he majored in zoology and developed into one of the college’s most avid football fans.  He graduated in1966.  He also enrolled in the Army Reserve and served his country for six years. 

His second great love, practicing law, began when he enrolled at The University of Michigan Law School.  After graduating from law school in 1969, he provided legal aid services in Corpus Christi, Texas.  A year later, Barrie and he moved to St. Joseph, Michigan where he worked as a young attorney for Butzbaugh & Page.  Mentored by Elden Butzbaugh Sr., John developed into a fine lawyer.  Eventually, John and his best friend Alfred Butzbaugh formed the Butzbaugh & Dewane law firm, where they practiced side by side for decades and where John enjoyed mentoring young lawyers, including his son and Mitt Drew. 

John was known throughout the State as one of the finest attorneys. This proved true when Governor Granholm appointed him as a Circuit Court Judge.  He served on the bench for eight years and retired as a judge in January of 2015.  After his judgeship, he re-entered private practice and served as the attorney for Meridian Township for several years.  He then joined the Kotz Sangster law firm, working alongside his one-time mentee, Mitt, up until his last days of life.

John also strove to make the world a better place and was a community activist.  He served on multiple boards.  He served on the Boards of the Cornerstone Alliance, Big Michigan Doings, Inc., the Berrien-Cass-Van Buren Workforce Development Board & Private Industry Council.  He was also the former president of the Berrien County Mental Health Board.   

John is survived by his wife, Barrie and his two children, Theresa Dewane (Peter Van Eynde) and John J. Dewane (Jennifer) as well as his two grandsons Connor and Colin Dewane; his sisters Gerri [Acers], Patty [McNally], and Meg [Boren]; along with many nieces, nephews, and friends.

 The family will celebrate the life of John during visitation at the Starks & Menchinger Chapel from4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 21. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in his name to the YMCA of Benton Harbor - St. Joseph, Michigan. Those wishing to share a memory of John online may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com


Service Details

View the current service details below. Sign up for email or text updates to receive notifications of any changes to service schedules or important information.

Sign up for schedule updates