Bernard James ‘B.J.’ Featherston, 74, passed away peacefully in his sleep Sunday, Jan. 31, after a legendary life well-lived.
Visitation for B.J. was held from 12 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3, at Reiff Funeral Home in Epworth, with a prayer service at 12 p.m. Visitation was also held from 9 a.m. till the time of services Thursday, Feb. 4, at the funeral home.
Services were at 11 a.m., with Deacon Dan O’Connell presiding and full military honors afforded by the Epworth American Legion John White Post #650. Lectors were Jenny Bemis, Megan Maahs and Ryan Hoerner. Eulogy was read by Dana Nadermann. Burial will be held at a later date.
B.J. was born Nov. 18, 1946, to Joseph and Bernadine (Neyens) Featherston in Cascade. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Monticello in 1964, where he was a stand-out on the basketball team. Sacred Heart is no longer operating so we can’t confirm, but according to B.J. he still holds all the scoring records. After high school, B.J. attended Sheridan Community College in Sheridan, Wy. After college, B.J. was proud to serve his country in Vietnam and then returned to his native Iowa.
He married Jane Shanahan on June 5, 1976. In 1978, B.J. took over operations of Murray’s Tap, renaming it Blue Jay’s Tap. Blue Jay’s Tap was a mainstay of the Epworth community and Featherston and Shanahan families for over 20 years. To ensure that “the walls didn’t talk,” the building was demolished in 1999, but stories are recounted frequently by many and could fill encyclopedia volumes.
Jane and B.J. had two children, Bryan and Katie, who were the apples of his eye.
B.J. left a lasting impact on the Epworth community. He expanded the youth sports offerings to include tee ball and was instrumental in the building of Centennial Park as President of the Epworth Park Board in the mid-80s. He played for the Epworth Orioles semi-pro baseball team and spent 14 years as the team’s manager. After his playing and managing career was over, he joined the Dubuque County Baseball Hall of Fame, serving as its President. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
B.J. had a profound impact on all those who crossed his path. He was the life of the party, generous to a fault and considered everyone to be part of his family. All were welcome to come along for the ride – from the backroads of Dubuque County to baseball fields and stadiums around the country and many places in between — it was the ride of a lifetime. He played many roles in life, from loving husband, to doting dad and brother, and really shined as an uncle. He took great pride in all the accomplishments of his nieces and nephews, offering unsolicited advice at every turn and reminding them frequently to “shoot the damn ball.”
He was a member of the St. Patrick Parish in Epworth, and the Epworth American Legion John White Post #650, where he served as Past Commander.
B.J. is survived by his wife Jane; son, Bryan (Sarah) of Urbandale; daughter, Katie (Shaun) of North Liberty; two grandchildren, Paige and Drew; siblings, Greg (Gail) Featherson, Donna Bardon and Rob (Laura) Hoener, all of Epworth; two sisters-in-law, Barb Featherston and Julie Shanahan, both of Dubuque; three brothers-in-law, Dave Wilson of Hopkinton, Bob (Becky) and Mike Shanahan, both of Maquoketa; many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and so many friends.
He was preceded in death by his mom and dad; step-father, Paul (Wink) Hoerner; three sisters, Mary Alice Wilson, Martha Maahs, and Monica Featherston; one brother, Joe Featherston; his mother and father-in law Loretta and Francis Shanahan; three brothers-in-law, Dick Maahs, Jerry Bardon, and Jack Shanahan.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Epworth Orioles semi-pro baseball team in B.J.’s name – donations will be used toward improvements to the baseball field. Anyone wishing to send a memorial may send them to the Reiff Funeral Home Attn: B.J. Featherston Family, PO Box 99, Farley, Iowa, 52046.
The family would like to especially thank Tom Berger and the Epworth Fire Department, the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department and his medical support team who kept him going these last couple of months.
A video tribute may be viewed and online condolence may be given to the family at www.reifffuneralhomeinc.com