John Joseph “Jack” Meehan was born in San Francisco, California to John Patrick Meehan and Helen Gertrude Meehan (nee Smith). A third generation San Franciscan, Jack grew up at 4622 18th Street in Eureka Valley. Jack attended Most Holy Redeemer School (Class of 1946), St. Ignatius High School (Class of 1950) and the University of San Francisco (B.S. 1954; J.D. 1959) Jack’s childhood was one of great joy whether it was playing sports with friends, bombing down perilously steep Mission District streets on clip-on metal roller skates, or delivering flowers downtown after school for Podesta Baldocchi florists. The nuns at Most Holy Redeemer taught Jack the piano, a talent he gladly displayed over the years. Jack was most proud of his father, also known as Jack, a highly respected officer with the San Francisco Police Department. Eventually rising to the rank of captain, Jack’s dad exemplified the gold standard for dedication to family and selfless service to others.
While a student at USF, Jack met the love of his life, Janet (nee Mangan), a student at nearby Lone Mountain Women’s College, who, along with many of her classmates, auditioned for The College Players of USF’s “The Triumph of the Cross: A Passion Play.” Jack and Janet ended up singing together in the High Chorus. It is impossible to describe the amount of fun Jack and Janet had together, along with their many friends, in the halcyon days of San Francisco in the 1950s. Jack and Janet married on June 28, 1958. They welcomed their precious daughter Anne Marie to the world in 1959, followed by sons John Matthew (“Matt”), James Patrick (“Jim”), and Mark Emmitt in 1960, 1961, and 1965, respectively. The Meehan family tragically lost Anne in a helicopter crash which also claimed Jack’s parents and sister Patricia Marie on August 14, 1968. Despite this indescribably sad event, Jack and Janet’s marriage persevered and flourished until Janet’s death on March 6, 2017.
During his college years, Jack and several of his St. Ignatius and USF friends spent summers working at the City of San Francisco’s Camp Mather near Yosemite. Jack took full advantage of countless opportunities for hilarity. Jack learned how to tend bar at historic Evergreen Lodge and over the years frequently displayed his bartending skills at gatherings of family and friends. After graduating from college, Jack was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the United States Army in September of 1954. Jack was stationed at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska where he served as a Battery Executive Officer (Battery D, 93d AAA Bn; 120mm gun). Janet later described Jack’s time in Alaska as “Jack being in cold storage.” As if to prove her point, Jack’s favorite “war story” was recounting his first day on base when the frames of his glasses shattered as he entered a heated barracks from 60 degrees below zero. After an honorable discharge, Jack enrolled at USF Law School. During his law school years Jack also worked as a playground director for the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department. In 1958, Jack managed Jackson Playground’s “Midget” baseball team to the city championship. Jack was a proud member of the celebrated “Class of 1959” known for its philanthropy to USF Law School. Jack forged lifelong friendships with classmates Max Gutierrez, Don Carano, Phil Trobridge, Coleman Fannin, George Martinez, and many others.
Jack began a long and distinguished career with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in 1960. Under District Attorney D. Lowell Jensen, Jack established the Law and Motion Division and became a nationally recognized expert in the law of search and seizure. Jack was the creator and editor of “Point of View,” a monthly publication designed to educate prosecutors throughout California. Jack also created and hosted “Points and Authorities,” a weekly educational video series for California prosecutors. Both continue to this day. Jack’s many contributions to the law were recognized by the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) in 1978 when he was presented the “Prosecutor of the Year Award.” In 1981, Jack, then Chief Assistant District Attorney, was appointed District Attorney by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Jack was reelected District Attorney unopposed in 1982, 1986, and 1990. Jack retired at the end of his term in 1994, but remained active in the law for many years, both as the author of scholarly articles for CDAA publications, and as a Board Member and later President of USF Law School’s Law Assembly. Jack was recognized as USF Law School’s Alumnus of the Year in 1994. In 1998, USF created the “John J. Meehan Alumni Fellowship” to recognize a distinguished alumnus committed to mentorship. Upon his retirement, the CDAA established the “John J. Meehan Career Prosecutor Award.” Jack will be remembered by his “DA Family” as a man of great warmth, integrity, humility, superior intellect, and good humor. Affectionately known as “the Big Guy,” Jack’s leadership set the tone for the entire DA’s Office as one of professionalism, dedication to the rule of law, compassion for victims of crime, and mutual respect for law enforcement partners, members of the bench, and the defense bar. Jack was particularly honored to receive the “Saint Thomas More Award” from the Saint Thomas More Society of San Francisco in 2003, given in recognition of the ideals of service and sacrifice reflected in the life and death of St. Thomas More.
Despite his professional accomplishments, Jack put his family first. Jack and Janet raised their family mostly in San Rafael where they were long time parishioners at St. Isabella’s Catholic Church. Jack and Janet enjoyed a strong and enduring marriage which included many adventures, fine dining throughout Marin, Sonoma, and Napa, fun trips with life-long friends Bill and Trish Kennedy, and hosting countless family gatherings with Jack either tending bar, playing the piano, or dominating the younger generation on the backyard basketball court with his famous right hook. Jack managed teams throughout the 1970s in the Marinwood Lucas Valley Little League. Every season began with Jack’s prediction of a championship. There were a couple over the years.
Jack is survived by his “kid brother” Terence Edward (Terry) Meehan and sister-in-law Elizabeth (Liz), of San Jose, son Matt and daughter-in-law Berta of Roseville, son Jim and daughter-in-law Arlene of Pleasanton, and son Mark and daughter-in-law Karen of Concord. Jack is also survived by his grandson John Meehan and his wife Jenn of Livermore, granddaughters Kelly and Anna Meehan of Concord, and granddaughter Rachel Urbina of Pleasanton. Jack also leaves behind nephews Dan Mangan, Steve Mangan, and Michael Meehan, nieces Katie Dunn and Christine Meehan, and cousins Nancy Young and Diane Jerrold. The Meehan family would like to extend its appreciation to the health care professionals at Stoneridge Creek Skilled Nursing in Pleasanton and Hope Hospice of Dublin. In lieu of flowers the Meehan family suggests donations either to Hope Hospice of Dublin or the Stoneridge Creek Employee Appreciation Gift Fund (SCEAGF), c/o First Republic Bank of Pleasanton.
Funeral services and interment will be private due to COVID-19 restrictions.