Madison - John C. "Jack" Street, age 87, of Madison, died on Sunday, August 6, 2017 at Agrace HospiceCare in Janesville. He was born in Chicago on April 3, 1930, son of The Rev. (later Rt. Rev.) Charles Larrabee Street and Louise (Rouse) Street, then of Sycamore, Illinois. Burial will be in the family lot in Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery. He was preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Eve Baker Street (1945-2014). After 1947 graduation from St. Mark's School in Southboro, Mass., Jack attended Yale University, earning a BA, MA, and PhD degrees by 1955, the last of these in the field of linguistics. Following two years in the U.S. Army, he taught at Michigan State University, Columbia University, and the University of Washington before taking a tenured position in the Linguistics Department at the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1963. Though teaching courses in general linguistics there, his research specialty for fifty years was the language used in Mongolia during the 13th century; and particularly a document called The Secret History of the Mongols composed in 1227 - which in effect is a life of Genghis (properly Chinggis) Khan by those who know him. Most of his published books and articles related to that document, or other varieties of Mongolian. Jack retired as Emeritus Professor of Linguistics in 1993. After 1983 he also published six books on family genealogy.
There was one non-academic accomplishment of which Professor Street was especially proud: the restoration of an 1878 stone salt-box house in Berry Township, northwest of Madison. Thanks to sheer luck he was able to purchase the fine old house - with considerable acreage and part of a small lake - for a very reasonable price in 1965. After much physical labor, and professional replacement of wiring, plumbing, etc., he moved into the house in 1966, and lived there (with his wife, after marriage in 1975) for over thirty years. In the meantime, with the help of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, he was able to get the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and in 1974 sold the lake property on his farm to the Dane County Parks Department for what has since then been called Indian Lake County Park.
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Jack Street and I came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty in the same year, 1963, he to the Department of Linguistics, me to the Department of English. Since my Ph.D. degree was in Linguistics and since my appointment in the English Department involved the teaching of courses in English language and linguistics, plus the establishment and administration of a program in English as a Second Language for international students, we naturally shared disciplinary interests. I remember meeting him regularly for brief chats on MWF mornings on Bascom Hill just before our respective courses. We were both also members of the Linguistic Circle of Madison, a monthly gathering of faculty from different language departments doing teaching and research in linguistic matters. Within a few years of our initial appointments, Jack became chair of the Linguistics Department and I became the lead person in the development of various programs in English linguistics. Our friendly relationship broke down in the late '60s over new courses that I proposed in English linguistics which Jack felt intruded on the curriculum of the Linguistics Department. This fracture in our relationship never fully healed, unfortunately. Nevertheless, I am saddened by his death, mindful of my knowledge that Jack, as years passed, faced numerous difficulties in both his professional and his personal life. I believe that he was able to surmount these problems in his years of retirement at Capitol Lakes. If so, God be with him. May he rest in peace. Charles Scott
I read the obituary with great interest. The 1878 stone house in Berry Township was built by my great great grandfather, Frederich Schumann. He had come from Germany in 1850 with his Father, Mother and 7 siblings. About 12 years ago the current owners invited the Schumann Family to tour the home. It was very exciting to be inside the house that I had passed so many times growing up on our way to my grandparents in Marxville. I do have the papers from the Historcial Society listing the home on the register of Historic Places. I do wish I had tried to contact Mr Street to thank him for his interest in this historic home.
Rachel Schumann Anderson, DeForest, WI
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