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Kerley Ink Mourns the Loss of John J. Whalen


Industry leader was also a noted philanthropist, co-founding The McDermott Center/Haymarket House

Kerley Ink announced with great sadness the passing of its president and owner, John J. “Jack” Whalen on Jan. 20, 2014. He was 84 years old. Mr. Whalen’s career with Kerley Ink started in April 1954, after Mr. Whalen returned to college in Chicago from his service in the U. S. Army after the Cease-Fire suspending the Korean War. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Whalen married his college sweetheart Betty Kerley, daughter of Ray Kerley, the company’s original founder. In 1956, Ray Kerley died, and Jack Whalen was chosen to replace Ray as President.

Jack Whalen got busy immediately as the new president of the company by looking for new and profitable avenues of growth. By the late 1950’s, Jack Whalen came to realize that he could make a profit readily by manufacturing coldset and heatset web ink in large volumes. Mr. Whalen was quite successful in this endeavor, and landed many prestigious accounts from the 1950s onward, including W. F. Hall, World Color Press, Cuneo Press, J. W. Clement/Arcata Graphics, McCall’s Co., Meredith, R. R. Donnelley, and many others.

By the late 1960’s, it became apparent to him that the growing market for mass printing was so large that he could branch out to the business of manufacturing dispersions and web offset ink vehicles for resale to other ink manufacturers. This business morphed into sales of private-label finished inks by the mid 1970s, and has been a major part of the company’s sales since then.

In the mid-1980s, Jack Whalen decided to devote more of his time to the pursuit of philanthropic causes. Especially dear to him was his co-founding of The McDermott Center/Haymarket House located in Chicago’s infamous “Skid Row.” The construction and consequent administration of the 250,000 square-foot Center and auxiliary buildings was Jack Whalen’s passion for the next three decades. Through his years as board chairman of the McDermott Center, he made hundreds of friends and acquaintances who saw the good that Jack Whalen had accomplished for his fellow man. Along with Father Ignatius McDermott, co-founder of the Center, Jack Whalen was responsible for enabling literally tens of thousands of alcohol- and drug-addicted persons become detoxified and receive a chance at a new, addiction-free life.

Mr. Whalen is survived by his wife Betty Kerley Whalen and two children, John R. “Jack” Whalen and Julie Whalen-Musil. Immediate plans call for son John R. Whalen to assume responsibility for running Kerley Ink.

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