Dr. John Robert Poncher, 91, of Valparaiso passed away peacefully at home with his beloved family on Monday, July 11, 2022. He was born September 13, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois to Dr. Henry G. and Gretchen (Marquardt) Poncher. John began his post-secondary education at Wabash College, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy to proudly serve during the Korean conflict aboard a P2V Neptune aircraft as a radar operator. Their mission was observing and reporting submarine activity. He later finished his bachelor’s degree at Valparaiso University and attended Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis. On December 21, 1956, he married Gwen Stewart in Valparaiso, Indiana whom he met at Valparaiso University. He completed an internship in Evansville Indiana and a residency at Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital (currently known as Lurie Children’s Hospital) where he received his medical training as a pediatrician.
Moving back to Valparaiso to begin medical practice, Dr. Poncher then founded Associated Pediatricians in 1969 and expanded the practice until his retirement in 2002. He was particularly devoted to working with special needs children and always made time for them in his practice. His connection with Lurie Children’s Hospital was also pivotal in caring for children with more serious health issues. Lurie Children’s Hospital continued to be a key part of his professional medical life where he was a member of the teaching faculty for 55 years. After retirement, he continued to practice medicine by volunteering at HealthLinc Clinic in Valparaiso and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
Throughout his career, he earned numerous accolades related to his dedication to medicine and pediatrics. He was recognized as Indiana Physician of the Year in 1976 and later received the John C. Cook award from the Chicago Pediatric Society in 1999. He also held many positions of leadership within the community. In particular, the county fair and 4-H activities held a special place in his heart and he served on the fair board for many years. He also served on the board of Fifth Third Bank and the local United Way. He always took the opportunity to volunteer and donate his time and expertise to improve the lives of children and the community.
Dr. Poncher is survived by his loving wife Gwen of 65 years, their children; John (Trisha) Poncher of Valparaiso, Susan Poncher of Michigan City, Julia (Dominic) Mosca of Wilmette, IL, and Jane (Dennis) McPeters of Chandler, AZ, as well as their cherished grandchildren; Emily and Kathlyn Poncher; Gretchen, Elaina, and Angelina Billys; and Trent McPeters.
A visitation will be held Friday, July 15 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso with funeral service immediately following at 11:00 am and burial to follow at Graceland Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to Boys and Girls Club of Valparaiso (founded locally by Dr. Poncher’s cousin Bryce Billings in 1972), or Immanuel Lutheran Church. In consideration of recent health issues, the family is requiring masks at all services
My heart is with John, Susan, Julia & Jane, all my special cousins, and Gwen especially. We have such wonderful memories of all our Poncher gatherings. Especially fun at the fairs. John was always such a warm quiet calm person, and my moms very favorite and only cousin. John’s life was undoubtedly extended by Gwen’s loving care. Here for all of you. -Susan Stefans
Dr. Poncher was so loved by our family. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a great man. Our dad highly respected Dr. Poncher. I have fond memories of his humor and loving care on numerous occasions. I am so sorry to miss the visitation, as I will be out of town. Much love and prayers to all of the family. I so would have loved to see you in person to offer my condolences and celebrate your dad’s amazing life. What a legacy your dad has left for all of us. With love and sympathy, -Caroline Hefner Busch
My deepest sympathy to his family and many friends. Dr. Poncher was a the best neighbor, a pleasure to work for and Doctor to my three girls. I know he will be missed by his family as well as the community of Valpo. -Linda (Geary) Stack
Dr. Poncher was amazing. When I was a new mom he recommended so many "old school" remedies. He was a great man who put the worries of a new mother and her fears to ease while helping so much. He was truly missed after his retirement. May the stories of what a great man comfort the family during this difficult time. -Stephanie Solich
Dr. Poncher was boys pediatrician. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word to say. My sons are all grown men now but they remember him and didn’t mind going to see the doctor. My family and I send our sincere condolences and may you Rest In Peace, Dr. Poncher. -Mr. and Mrs. Ross Marshall