John left the Naval Academy prior to graduation in 1968. Officially, the reason was academic performance, but John would have said it was by mutual agreement that he was not suited for life in the Navy. He completed his Bachelors Degree at the University of California Berkeley and went on to earn a Masters Degree in Industrial Psychology.
Along the way, John found his true calling as a Fireman with the Oakland Fire Department. John was tagged early as one of the brightest rising stars within the department and he steadily rose through the ranks to Battalion Chief. Within the department, he not only held the respect of his peers and subordinates, but also their affection.
John was briefly married in his 20s, but the marriage could not compete with his lifestyle as a Firemen. John lived a life with zest and an appetite for adventure. He loved the Fireman lifestyle, especially the time off that lifestyle provided. He loved sailing on the San Francisco Bay, riding motorcycles, and was an avid wind-surfer when that sport was just being developed. There were also trips to the beaches of Baja California and the Hood River in Oregon. John carried a flame in his spirit that shown generously on others. He inspired all around him to live life to the fullest.
John was eventually diagnosed with colon cancer, but not before that cancer had metastasized through his body. From the start, John knew he was fighting a losing battle, but he gave the outward appearance of one not concerned with dying. His interests were in living and he conducted himself accordingly. John’s humor and compassionate nature were present throughout his ordeal. However, John was also pragmatic and not one to deny the inevitable. While facing his ultimate demise, John married for a second time, in part to ensure that his hard earned pension and survival benefits would not go to waste.
John died on February 5, 1994 at age 46. He accepted death and the dying process. He even planned his own memorial service on the City of Oakland’s waterfront. At the remembrance, docked before his assembled mourners were Oakland’s Fire Boat the Sea Wolf, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential yacht Potomac and John’s own sailboat Grendle.
Updated: August 31, 2018
Curator: Ed Moore