John passed away on Saturday, Oct. 17, suddenly and without pain. He will be greatly missed by his family, handball buddies, golf friends, crabbing buddies and countless others in his circle.
John’s life was long and full. I think he’d want us to mention his sixth degree black belt in judo right up front. He was a great athlete, and athletic achievements shaped his life and career. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1947 with maybe a little fib about how old he was. He was able to attend college while enlisted and he played on the basketball team. He liked to say that he wasn’t that tall, but he had darn long arms.
John’s early career took him and his family all over the world. His wife, Billie June, and their three boys, Mike, Steve and Matt, were in the Philippines, Tripoli, and Madison, Wisc., to name just a few assignments.
But getting back to the black belt — John was on the first international team to travel to Japan after WWII to learn judo and bring it back to the states. This was part of a cultural exchange to foster understanding and relationships between the countries. At 6-foot-2 and 225 lbs., John excelled, and he won many competitions.
Finally settling in to the Lynnwood, Wash., area, John retired from the Air Force and immediately went on to other adventures.
John next became a public school administrator in Edmonds District 15. He was a vice principal, teacher, coach and dedicated referee at various sporting events. He also taught judo at the Washington Athletic Club for decades, mentoring many children and adults in the sport.
After a full second career, John retired again, only to discover new passions fishing and crabbing on Camano and Whidbey islands, which he enjoyed for years. He also decided to take up golf, which he turned out to be pretty good at too — no surprise.
All along, John was a great cook. He grew vegetables all summer long and had his own gigantic crock for homemade sauerkraut. He had worked in a butcher shop as a young man and he could tell a porterhouse from a T-bone, and he could cook all types of meat and fish perfectly. He made a fantastic prime rib, his shrimp tempura was fabulous and he could make a drink to be proud of. His Singapore Sling was a classic. And on the gin and tonics, it’s important to remember to not use too much tonic, that stuff is expensive.
John married Pam in 1992 and they enjoyed time on Whidbey Island and in Arizona before she passed in 2016. Once settled in Oak Harbor, Wash., John maintained his community-focused life. He was in Rotary Club, was president of the HOA, ran the golf course and was involved in multiple volunteer efforts.
John married Pat just a few years ago, and they were hoping to travel and golf a bit more, but she passed just this June.
This fall, John came to live with family in North Idaho, and we were happy to have time with him during this too brief period.
John is survived by his sons Matt and Steve; grandson Justin; great-grandsons Ryan and Jake; and brother Earl.
A celebration of John’s life will be scheduled at a later time