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Longtime Roseville activist placed on hospice

Jack Wallace suffers from rare form of cancer
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Even on hospice, Roseville resident Jack Wallace hasn’t stopped talking about what’s going on politically in the city he calls home.

Wallace, 82, has devoted much of his life to community activism and local politics. He’s currently eagerly anticipating the outcome of a complaint he filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission, now under investigation. But he may not live to see the outcome.

In July, Wallace began treatment for a rare form of carcinoid cancer. Doctors advised against chemotherapy, and instead put their patient on hormone treatment to ease symptoms. On Jan. 23, Wallace was placed on hospice. He has since welcomed “droves of visitors” into his house, said his wife, Marge.

“I’m just amazed and honored that so many people called, sent emails and have stopped by,” he said.

Wallace was born in 1931 in Broken Bow, Okla., and raised in Missouri. Once he learned to walk, he joined his mom and dad picking cotton in the fields. His father was a sharecropper. Wallace joined the U.S. Air Force at 17 years old and over the next 27 years did tours in Japan, Philippines, Germany and Italy.

While attending a Russian language academy in Syracuse, N.Y., as part of his training, Wallace and his three buddies learned of “four beautiful young chicks” that attended a local church. A fellow airman dated one of the girls and introduced Wallace to another one. After meeting Marge at the church, the airmen drove her two blocks in their car.

“When we dropped her off, I said, ‘I’m going to marry that girl,’” Wallace said. “It took me all of an hour and a half (to decide).”

They’ll be married 50 years in May.

During a tour in Japan, the couple considered adopting a baby boy. Marge already had a young son named Bryan. Then they met the boy who would be named David and returned with him to the United States.

“We held him and loved him,” Wallace said. “He was a beautiful little kid.”

Bryan now lives in Visalia and younger son David lives in Reno. Besides his wife and sons, the other constant love in Wallace’s life: Fast-pitch softball.

After retiring from the Air Force, Wallace earned his teaching credential and taught in the Roseville Joint Union High School District from 1983 to 1998. He continued subbing until two months ago. Soon after moving to Roseville in 1975, he got involved with politics.

“I got active because I felt what is right is right,” Wallace said. “I’ve always felt if you believe in something, you act on it. I’ve said I want inscribed on my tombstone: ‘At least I tried.’ Because most people complain and gripe and they never do anything.”

He served on the city’s Project Review Commission (now called Design Review) and Planning Commission, taking part in the development of five specific plans. He unsuccessfully ran twice for City Council.

“Money ruled the elections,” Wallace said. “I’ve said before I die, I want to see control of Roseville go back to the people and out of the deep pockets of special interests.”

Resident Theresa McInnes and Wallace have often worked together on city-related causes.

“Jack stands head and shoulders above all in tirelessly and fairly carrying out his advocacy for the people of Roseville,” she said. “While he was not born here, he adopted this city as his own, cares for it and steadfastly promotes what is the right thing to do, so I think of him as truly a son of Roseville.”

Scott Alvord, a former City Council candidate, recently paid Wallace a visit.

“He is one of the sharpest minds I’ve met and I’ve always been impressed with his unwillingness to sit on the sidelines quietly and complain,” Alvord said. “Instead, he takes the bull by the horns, does his research and takes action. He always does what he feels is right for the community and that has always been impressive.”

Councilwoman Pauline Roccucci met Wallace about 15 years ago when she was on the council and he was on the Planning Commission. She noted his recent work on the Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations and spearheading an ordinance to prohibit the outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana, which went into effect in November.

“He’s a tremendously kind and compassionate person and would literally give you the shirt off his back.” Roccucci said.

Wallace said he’s proud of his role in advocating for the marijuana ban because he felt he was representing not just himself and his neighbors, but dozens of residents throughout the city.

“I think I helped improve many of the projects in this city because of my research and input I provided,” Wallace said. “I didn’t win in all points. Never do. But (I did) enough to say I did help.”