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Another fine model railroader has passed away

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  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,494 posts
Another fine model railroader has passed away
Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 30, 2020 11:41 AM

Jack Ozanich's Atlantic Great Eastern railroad was often featured in Great Model Railroads and Model Railroad Planning due to his excellent modeling but also his dedication to (and absolute insistence on) the use of prototype operating methods in model railroading.  He also had an extensive outdoor railroad - large enough to ride in, 1/3 full size I think - where he also insisted on following prototype operating rules (and where as Tony Koester pointed out, actual human safety depended on following the rules).  

He was an Army vet and engineer for the GTW.  Age 76; death due to lung cancer.

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 577 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Saturday, May 30, 2020 11:57 AM

That is sad news.


  • Member since
    November 2006
  • From: NW Pa Snow-belt.
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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Saturday, May 30, 2020 12:29 PM

Deepest condolences to Jack's family and friends.

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

  • Member since
    October 2001
  • From: OH
  • 17,445 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 8:57 AM

That's sad news.. I recall seeing photos of his weathered AGE locomotives on another forum.



Summerset Ry.

"Your first mistake may be your last!" Safety First!

  • Member since
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  • From: SE Michigan
  • 877 posts
Posted by fmilhaupt on Saturday, June 6, 2020 8:39 PM

Operating sessions on the AGE were a different experience from most other model railroads. Jack, as a working rail, knew how a real railroad worked, took the prototype rule book seriously and applied that knowledge to his model railroad. The layout concept, design and operation were all based in how actual railroads operated. If you came to an operating session, you came to play the game in a very realistic way. For someone who had never worked for a railroad, it could be daunting, with a steep learning curve.

When I met Jack in 1996, he had developed a reputation akin to that of a drill sergeant due to his insistence on following prototype rules, and his occasional exasperation with crew members (especially the professional railroaders) who should know better than to commit various infractions. If you were willing to put up with his occasional expressions of frustration, you got a fascinating education in railroading, without the real job's odd hours, physical exertion, risks and aggravations. His expectations were high once you'd been there a while, but then again, you were running alongside other crews who were people who did this work for a living in the real world. So long as you were trying to play by the rules, you were generally OK in his book.

Jack was outgoing, friendly, funny, and inspired intense loyalty among his friends, to whom he was equally loyal. He freely acknowledged how intense he could get during an operating session.

Jack mellowed over the years, especially once he retired in 2004. In addition to his life-long fascination with steam-era railroading, he was interested in Civil War history, 1960s muscle cars, military aircraft, and enjoyed listening to bluegrass music and bicycling. One of many memories is of an operating session where a neighbor stopped by and sat on a stool for about half the session playing bluegrass standards on a mandolin.

We were devastated when Jack learned of his cancer a little over two months ago. Due to his being in the respiratory care unit, he was not allowed visitors, so his last contacts with his friends were via the phone. About three weeks ago, a few arranged a gathering outside his hospital window to show support for him. When the nurses brought him to the window, he saw about  40 friends holding posters and bearing cards. He was surprised and truly touched.

Over the past 24 years, I learned from Jack more about railroading than I could ever have hoped to otherwise, but more importantly, I was privileged to call him my friend.

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.

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