MADISON—John C. “Jack” Street, age 87, of Madison, died on Sunday, Aug. 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, Ill. 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 B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. 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 50 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 30 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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