Memorial messages from friends
and family of John McElroy

1922 ~ 2005

1922 ~ 2005


by his sister, Loa Wilson


When John was a teenager we lived on a fruit farm in Washington. John’s job during fruit harvest was to drive a contraption that was devised for fruit hauling from the orchard to the packing plant. It had a flatbed where the boxes of freshly picked fruit were loaded and the front consisted of an open motor with a seat behind it and a steering wheel. No cab, fenders or any of the finer accouterments. This day, John picked up a full load of fruit. He saw me out in the orchard and picked me up and put me on top of the boxes of fruit. He said “now you hang on tight”. I was about 7 years old at the time.

He revved it up and with plenty of ear shattering backfires we roared out of the orchard and made a turn onto a road to the packing plant. He was going so fast when he took the turn I went into my first sub-orbital flight over an irrigation ditch and landed under a peach tree. I came down on my arm which hurt a lot. I started to cry but sucked it up when I saw John running for me. He asked me if I was OK and I said yes. Then he carried me over sat me back up and hauled-ass into the packing plant.

John came home with his first motorcycle after the harvest was over. He had used his harvest earnings to buy it and took me for my first ride. He said “get on behind me and hang on tight”. And I did, with all my might. My face was pulled back and my lips bared my bug screening teeth and we pounded down the highway along the Snake River full throttle. I was a shy, quiet little kid and was taught by my family only to be seen, not heard. I screwed up my courage and asked John how fast we flew. He said “you just went 90 mph.”

A few days later we learned that John had been winning motorcycle races. Then my mother read in the paper that “Johnny McElroy won the motor cycle hill climb”. Sometime after that he came home one day with a big bug screen on his motor cycle that read “Oh Johnny Oh”. I thought that was really cool.

When I was grown and in the car market, brother Lynn arranged for me to buy a new Barracuda from his car outlet. I flew back to Illinois from Arizona to pick it up at his place and drive it home. I was pulled over in Willcox, Arizona, by a kindly patrolman. I was alone and young and he issued a warning ticket and said “better hold it down a little, maam, I clocked you at 97 mph”. Last February, I was returning to Scottsdale from a visit with Gary in Orange, Ca. I was on Interstate 10 driving a “Hot Rod” Lincoln and thought I had made it in good time as I approached the far outskirts of Phoenix. I glanced at the speedometer and it read 110 mph.

Watch out, Austin and Dustin. It’s in the genes.

Monday, January 17, 2005 at 23:38:19 (MST)
You do get another chance at a first impression:

I had the misfortune of meeting John in 1971. It was unfortunate for me because at the time of our first meeting I was sporting very long hair and a beard and driving a primer grey 1958 Volkswagen Bus. To John, this was not a classic car and I was not his idea of a welcome sight since it was 11 at night and we met while I was smoking a cigarette down by his pond. Of course John didn't think the cigarette was Union made and inspected it to make sure it was produced in the United States. Luckily for me it was...

We had come up to John's that night so Gary and I could paint our vans. John offered to help me the next morning and was less than thrilled when he took the paint gun in hand saw the bright Porsche orange paint flow from the gun onto my van. He asked if I was really painting this bright orange? I told him that the bumpers would be bright lime green of course and he promptly handed me the paint gun and walked back into the house in silence. Well, almost in silence, as he did mutter something to his Goose, but I couldn't quite hear what he said.

Five years later I drove up to meet Gary and John met me in the driveway. He had come running this time. I tried to hide my cigarette but it was too late! He was checking out my bright red 1957 Porsche this time and it brought a great smile on his face and we talked for quite some time. He never mentioned the fact that I was smoking nor that I had gotten a haircut since my first impression...I had gotten my second chance at that first impression and we had been great friends ever since.

John took us flying to Burbank one afternoon. He had a drink in his hand and I remember thinking that if he had a buzz, this wouldnt be such a safe flight. But then I remember thinking that if we got in any trouble, if John saved his own ass first, I was on the same plane and would get saved too! No problem.

On the way back from Burbank, he asked my friend Scott if he would like to fly the plane. My heart sank! Scott's hair was longer than any of ours! As Scott took the controls, the plane immediately dropped like and rock and started flying sideways! John thought this was rather amusing and let Scott find his way until he asked John to take back the controls. Scott actually did a rather fine job for a guy with hair that long..... :)

About 15 minutes later, a beeping sound started and John said "Ah oh". I dont know what "Ah oh" means in aviation terms but in long haired hippy terms it meant "AW SHIT". John started flipping switches and monitoring gauges and didnt say anything else until after we had landed. Safely on the ground (remember I predicted it would turn out this way) John told us we had run out of gas in one of the tanks so he had to move gas from one tank to another. He could have filled up at Burbank but he thought he had enough to get home where he had his own gas pumps. Now I know where Gary gets his "run them till the tanks are dry" adventurism although we did a lot of walking to and from Gary's cars in High School.

My father was a photographer for the Air Force and Carol and I made John copies of the all the airplane photos in my fathers collection. We shot them pinned up on his refrigerator! Carol did all of the work and John was very pleased.

John helped raise fine kids. I haven't seen **** for probably 30+ years but Coleen has been a pleasure to call my friend and Gary has always been there for me and I have been there for him. Truly fine people from a fine family and never a dull moment!

I am happy to know them all and very sad today in sharing their loss with them.

Doug Barrie
Riverside, California - Monday, January 17, 2005 at 01:34:50 (MST)
The funeral was wonderful and I did say a few words of remembrance for our friend John. He was truly a man of outstanding character and that was shown even more vividly as his friends and family got up and spoke at the service.

I remember when my husband Ed spoke of a new member of the Valley who was also a pilot and one who was interested in farmilng. So one day I was able to meet this dynamic man in person when he landed on our airstrip down on Pala Road. The runway was narrow (12 feet) and only 1200 feet long, not an ideal strip to land a twin engine plane. Also there were power lines at one end of the runway and tall trees at the other. Nevertheless, John made his appearance that day landing his twin on the runway and taxing up to our hanger looking poised and dignified and talking farm biz and when we had been duly impressed, he took off from a halfway point by the hanger and disappeared out of site.

During the time we knew John, our kids and John's were about the same age and relatively young so when his kids were at the Ranch, we would get together with my kids and do things together. Carol and John made the ranch on Los Alamos Road a loving place for all the kids to come to. Coleen and my daughter Robyn rode their horses in the local parade and Carol and I often rode our horses in the open was a very nice time to be living in the Temecula-Murrieta Valley.

There were a "handful" of farmers and just about all of them owned airplanes and airstrips so we would sometimes plan an airplane outing, once to Kurt Thompson's field in Murrieta. We had the farthest to go...about 10 miles, Jack and Madeline Roripaugh had about four miles and John and Carol had about a mile so it was pretty funny to watch them take off from his airstrip along Los Alamos Road and fly to Kurt's field over near the high school... there was hardly time to get airborne before having to come back down...and no FAA or Socal to tell us any different.

A lot of local pilots got their ticket to fly at John's airstrip when it was Charlie Yoder's ranch and I believe that is one of the reasons John was intrigued with the ranch.

Over the years, Ed and I went many places with John and Carol in John's planes. We took trips to the Colorado River to water ski, a short trip to view the Sylmar earthquake, trips to Catalina, and several trips to Las Vegas "just for lunch". John would call me when I worked at Murrieta Hot Springs Spa in it's hayday and one day he called and said "Hey Peg, if you and Ed are not doing anything tonight, let's fly to Vegas", so we met him out at his hangar and we flew, along with two other couples to Macarran where a limo was waiting for us and on to the MGM Grand Hotel and Elvis was starring there, so John asked us if we wanted to see him perform. The line was snaking all the way around the casino and John got impatient so he disappeared for about ten minutes and when he returned he said "come on" and led us past everyone in line and right through the door and to some of the best seats in the house...and what a performance that was....we stayed around the casino till about 4AM and headed back to the airport and home by way of Big Bear Lake and skimming just off the lake at the dam and getting home just as the sun was rising...what a night to remember.

John was always doing that...treating his friends to a wonderful memory. Another time he orchestrated a trip to Cabo San Lucas with three planes...he took two other couples in his Cessna 411, Dick Tuso was in a new 310 and we had just bought his 210, so all the planes made the Cessna company proud...we managed to make a spectacle of ourselves on our first stop to Loreto. John brought a potted palm bigger that he was into our room and dropped it on the floor and we chased each other throughout the hotel and Doug Elliot couldn't stand to look at the refried beans the next morning at breakfast so we left dubbed "The Ugly Americans", I'm sure. The entire trip was a huge amount of fun for all of us and we took many memories home to last a lifetime.

We were also privileged to travel with John and his daughter Coleen to Europe via commercial airlines and were able to see and visit several countries including Spain and Africa, and Ed was able to travel with John to Canada and visit his Mom in Washington and fish in cold Shasta Lake. John, Carol, Ed and I flew on a cross country trip to New Orleans where we rode the river locks and saw Pete Fountain and ate Crawdads New Orleans style, then on to Cape Canaveral and Daytona Beach where we drove along the sand. Our final stopoff was at Cypress Gardens to watch the water show. It was an extremely nice trip and coming back Ed noticed that the fuel gauge was dipping and we were on top of cloud cover. About the time that Ed was getting "really nervous" John spotted a hole and descended through and Carol spotted a couple of familiar hills near French Valley and we practically glided home on "fumes" before rolling to a stop at John's hangar.

One of the funniest stories that Ed and I were reliving was when John called Ed to "co-pilot" with him for a group of developers from the Orient who had never ridden in a plane smaller than a 747 and insisted that the plane be a twin and have a co-pilot. John said "let's have some fun with this" and Ed was certainly game for it so he met John at the hangar and noticed the group of men standing around looking very nervous. John told them to get in and strap down because it was going to be a bumpy flight. Then John and Ed got in and John said "Hey Ed, do you remember how to start this thing"? Ed said "No, but I thing the instruction book is in the glove compartment". Well you can imagine what those guys in the back seat were doing....

John was also very generous and I have several beautiful rings that he designed which only demonstrates his many talents. I once gave John a birthday card that showed a man standing in the middle of a corn field and the caption said "Here's to a man outstanding in his field". He loved that card but it truly spoke of this wonderful man...truly outstanding in his field... any field.

And I choose to remember this giant of a man who could and did almost everything.

Peggy Querry <>
Murrieta, Ca 92563 - Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 13:27:46 (MST)
When I moved to Murrieta in 1985 one of the first persons that I met was Gary McElroy. Shortly after meeting Gary, I met his father John. To say the least, John had character. John preferred to live in a black and white world with very little grey area. You might say that John was opinionated, but in a very good way.

I joined with John to form Murrieta Citizens For Cityhood in 1988 along with several others. To some people's surprise, John was to become quite a good politician in the effort to make Murrieta a city. Many people worked long and hard to make Murrieta a city, but without John McElroy's tireless leadership Murrieta would not be a city today. I valued John's friendship and I will miss him.

Joe Romine <>
Riverside, Ca. - Saturday, January 15, 2005 at 12:23:23 (MST)
John, Thanks for the flying lesson. I'll never forget the 300 foot drop as you handed me the controls. Good people leave good memories - Thank You

Gary, be patient. Even good memories can leave loved ones short sighted. In time we all come around.

Sincerely Hoping you and yours an easy transition.

Scott and Bev Powell <>
San Diego, CA - Friday, January 14, 2005 at 21:22:55 (MST)
So many funny stories ....the banana seeds, your big ol' dog tearing Gary's trim off of his car, $1.99 breakfast .... rest in peace Mr Mac.

Jeff Young <>
San Diego, California - Friday, January 14, 2005 at 21:03:55 (MST)
My dear John, I may never have known the excitement of flying if I had not met you or your loving daughter Coleen and the sweetest guy your son Gary. Wow, not everyone gets to fly in a twin engine airplane!! Lucky me!! How I enjoyed those wonderful flights. I miss them and I'm gonna miss you. You'll always have a special place in my heart because in some ways we were alike; especially in voicing our opinions. Good bye and I love you!!!!

Rhonda Hooper Blacharski <>
- Friday, January 14, 2005 at 19:24:46 (MST)
It is said that to know how good of a father you are is to look at your kids. In knowing Gary, **** and Colleen I think John McElroy did a great job. I loved hearing stories from Gary about the adventures he and his dad would have. Whether it was looking for a special antique car, airplane, farm equipment, or just how the day was plowing the fields it was always exciting. Mr. McElroy did live his life to the fullest and has left a lasting impression on me of what a person can accomplish with a little elbow grease.

Paul Szuszkiewicz <>
Moreno Valley, CA - Friday, January 14, 2005 at 10:39:59 (MST)
The Press-Enterprise


Murrieta pioneer John McElroy dies at age 82

OBITUARY: He helped raise money to turn the area into a city and had a love for aviation.

One of Murrieta's founding fathers died at an Orange County hospital Sunday morning.

John McElroy, 82, chipped in thousands of dollars and donated gifts to help launch a Murrieta cityhood drive in 1988. He died after a five-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, said his son, Gary McElroy.

"He was a great man who loved this community," friend Tex McAlister said. "This was his home, and he fought to keep it that way. He didn't want Murrieta to be a bedroom community to Temecula."

Mr. McElroy was born in Tower Field, Ill.

After moving with his family to Canada, he relocated to Los Angeles and opened a car body shop. It was in Los Angeles where he met his wife and also fell in love with aviation.

Over the years, Mr. McElroy collected more than 100 planes, from single-engine planes to bombers, which he stored in hangars and sold over the years, Gary McElroy said.

Mr. McElroy also was involved with developing homes and worked in Anaheim and Corona before moving to Murrieta in 1968.

In Murrieta, Mr. McElroy farmed oats, wheat and barley and took his love for aviation to the next level: grading a private airstrip on his property. Remnants of the strip can still be seen along Los Alamos Road north of Interstate 15. "We used to fly right out over where The Home Depot is," Gary McElroy said. "Flying was his passion."

While living in Murrieta, Mr. McElroy would spend mornings at a cafe/clothing store in Old Town Murrieta. One morning in 1988, Mr. McElroy sat down for breakfast with McAlister and George Walker and chatted about Murrieta's future. At the time, Temecula was considering incorporating the community and creating one large city stretching from San Diego County to Lake Elsinore. "John had lived here for quite some time," McAlister said. "He thought Murrieta was large enough to become a city." The three men started Murrieta Citizens for Cityhood, and each man threw in $5,000 to pay for a feasibility study.

Over the next two years, Mr. McElroy donated cars and gifts and hosted parties to raise money for the incorporation push.

On July 1, 1991, Murrieta became a city.

Mr. McElroy is survived by two sons, Gary a daughter, Colleen Coomes an another son.

The Californian

Adventurer, Murrieta founding father John McElroy dies

By: LAURA MITCHELL - Staff Writer

MURRIETA ---- Murrieta lost another founding father over the weekend.

John McElroy, 82, died Sunday morning of pneumonia in a hospital in Orange County after a five-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, son Gary McElroy said. "With the Alzheimer's, I lost my dad a long time ago, but there's a big part of him still in my heart," he said.

John McElroy was one of three men who chipped in the initial $15,000 to start Murrieta's cityhood effort.

If it wasn't for McElroy and George Walker, who came up with the idea of incorporating, Murrieta today might be part of Temecula, Tex McAlister said Monday. McAlister, Walker and McElroy contributed $5,000 each to begin the process of incorporation. McAlister is now the only one of the trio still alive to tell what happened that morning in 1988 at the Windmill restaurant on Jefferson Avenue in Murrieta. Walker died in October 2002. "We almost didn't make it," McAlister said of the cityhood effort. "We got through by the skin of our teeth."

Mayor Jack van Haaster said Monday that without McElroy, Walker, McAlister and the people who helped them, Murrieta would not be a city today. As president of Murrieta Citizens for Cityhood, McElroy did a very good job leading the group through the process, said John Reidy, who was the vice president of the citizens group. "There was a lot of adversity ... people threatening to beat us up, burn us down," Reidy said Monday. "John did a magnificent job of guiding us through it all."

Another official with the citizens group, Joe Romine, said Monday that McElroy's frankness will be missed. "One good thing about John, you never had to worry about where he stood on an issue," Romine said. "He was adventurous, strong-willed and very opinionated. ... There wasn't too much of a gray area with John."

McElroy rubbed elbows with movie stars and met his heroes, Charles Lindbergh and Howard Hughes, with whom he shared a love of flying, McElroy's partner, Carol Kravagna, said Monday. Kravagna was the secretary of the citizens group.

McElroy shared his love of flying with his friends, sometimes taking them to faraway places. Van Haaster said when he was first elected to the City Council in 1992, McElroy invited him to ride in his plane. "I got my first aerial tour of the area," he said. Kravagna said McElroy claimed to have owned more than 130 aircraft in his lifetime. "John always had a plane," McAlister said. "We'd go up to Vegas or Mexico for lunch ---- he'd do stuff like that for fun. "McElroy crashed into the Salton Sea at one time. He had quite a life."

Gary McElroy said that his father was also his best friend. "We shared a passion for flying, cars and jukeboxes. We were each other's best friends," Gary McElroy said. He recalled how his father, who made his living as a developer, loved being in nature and helping others as well as flying and cars.

John McElroy and his brother purchased an almost one million-acre ranch in Brazil, north of its capital, Brasilia, and later donated it to the Boy Scouts, Gary McElroy said.

Reidy said McElroy was always helping people who needed a hand. "Every time you needed something, he was there, and he never took payment for his help," he said.

John McElroy was born in Tower Hill, Illinois, in 1922 and lived most of his childhood in Canada. In addition to son Gary McElroy, he is survived by his daughter, Coleen Coombs of Crested Butte, Colo., and another son, and grandchildren Dustin McElroy and Austin Coombs of Crested Butte.

Being a newcomer to the family, by marriage to Coleen, I unfortunately don't have the depth of experiences with Mr. McElroy that are lovingly communicated in this Memorial Book. However, after reading others stories and memories I can see the common thread of his humanity and humor that he shared with me in the too few times we were together.


With some apprehension I opened the front gate to meet and greet the Father of the Bride when he arived to reherse the wedding ceremony. " I thought you said this was a dressy affair!" says he. I thought I was somewhat chic in a new white linen suit, momentarily sans jacket, with a white Armani T-shirt. John only noted the T-shirt. He was wearing a tie imprinted with dollar bills, or maybe they were fifties!


Coleen and I found out about Austins impending birth around Christmas 1997, five months after our wedding. We were very excited to tell the soon to be Grandfather the good news, which we did at his home in Murrieta. "You didn't waste any time!" was his retort.


As I write this Memorial I am looking at a photo of John holding a very contented cat amidst a field of corn that I am sure he planted and nurtured. The stalks are towering over his head by no less than four feet. When he visited us in Santa Fe, shortly before Austin's August birth, he brought a bag of special planting corn and helped Coleen start our summer garden. The seed lasted us for three seasons. We'll keep the memories forever.

Please share your stories of John with his six year old Grandson, Austin.

Phillip Coombs<>
Crested Butte, Colorado - Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 20:05:35 (MST)
John had many admirable qualities, among them a reverence for life and a profound love of animals. Once when he was building a golf course, the bulldozer disturbed a nest of snakes. John was seen carrying a bucketful of his writhing friends to a new location because he had destroyed their home.

At the ranch, a family of skunks came to lunch each day in the garage. They had discovered the dogfood bag, and enjoyed their meals, eating delicately with little pink hands. John was careful not to startle them. If he happened upon them suddenly they would raise their tails in warning, but they never used their firepower. He and the skunks co-existed peacefully and odorlessly.

It has been said that when you cross over to the other side, all the dogs you've ever loved come running to greet you, led by the favorite dog. I have pondered which of John's many dogs this would be. It just must be Scotty, our childhood dog, so loving, devoted and loyal-- he was the essence of dogness. He laughed and bounced and wagged when you were happy and when sorrow came, he gave face-licks to staunch the tears, and he cried too.

St. Peter must have braced himself for John and his army of animals applying for entrance at the Golden Gate. I hope he had plenty of flea spray.

I loved my brother and will miss him.

Marion McElroy <>
Poolesville , Md - Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 17:55:08 (MST)
I grew up about 2,000 miles from Uncle John, but he came back East every year or so to pick up a new Cadillac and drive it home. With him came stories and glimpses of life in California, what famous places he'd seen, who he'd met from TV or the movies. It sounded very glamorous to someone growing up in corn and soybean country.

In 1972, Uncle John brought the kids along which was great fun. Like most of the family, I had developed an early interest in politics, and at 18, was about to cast my first-ever vote for George McGovern. Dad (Lynn) & Uncle John couldn't bear the thought. One day we decided to tour Lincoln's Springfield. Taking nine people in my folks station wagon meant three of us would have to ride in the rear seat, facing backwards. I and a couple of my cousins volunteered. Along the road, John asked, "How is it back there in that McGovern seat"? Later that day, we stopped at a smorgasbord. We all put on the feedbag, though Cousin Gary and my brother Monte were winning the eating contest. After Gary's third or fourth trip through the line, John quipped, "That kid will eat the grease of the napkins".

That kind of off-the cuff humor is what I'll remember most about John. When he and Dad got together, they loved to tell stories: The Cats in the Schoolhouse, Battery Acid on the Seat, The Cigar Business, The Windcharger, The Rattling Chamber Pot, Stinky Davis, The Bagleys, Greased Potatoes & Syrup. Hearing such tales helped to spur my interest in family history.

Last summer, I discovered that the man long thought to be our Irish ancestor Robert McElroy (1796-1874) was actually born in Delaware. That meant at least one more generation to go, and searching 18th century records would not be fun.

Then, while surfing the web for Uncle John's obituary last week, I happened across an obscure 1887 biography from Iowa. Ironically, it had been downloaded shortly before Uncle John died. It stated that our Robert McElroy had a brother James who settled in Iowa, and their father was the one who came from Ireland. His name was John McElroy.

Tammy Wilson
Newton, North Carolina - Sunday, January 09, 2005 at 13:23:20 (MST)
My Uncle John did two special things for me that I would like to acknowledge here. When I was thirteen, he let me and my friends build a horse corral on his propoerty back behind his house. We had our own special spot there to ride and take care of our horses, and I will not forget that kindness.

My Uncle John also gave my friends and me a treat when he flew us to a rock concert in Palm Springs one weekend-- another kindness I will not forget.

Kim (Casagrande) Louth <>
Poolesville, MD - Friday, January 07, 2005 at 18:32:30 (MST)
I have the greatest degree of respect and appreciation for John McElroy. My chance meeting of John, in the Corona Bowling Alley, back in the summer of 1968, was one of the most fortunate occurrences of my life. Following that chance meeting, John asked me if I knew of any large parcel of land on which he could construct an air strip. I told him I knew of such a property with an air strip and showed him the property in Murrieta. He purchased the property and made it his home and private air strip, over these many years. This purchase started a long and lasting friendship.

John was a very unique individual. Many years ago, he decided to be a farmer. I remember he went to the auction and bought 3 of everything he needed, three harvesters, three bulldozers, etc. He would use one for parts and restore two, to perfect appearance and condition. He would use one for his own needs and sell the other restored equipment to get most if not all of his money back. I remember one time he and I took off in his plane and all of a sudden he seemed concerned about the performance of the planes engine. I said in a very excited and worried manner, "what's the problem"? He said, "Don't worry". He turned the plane around, landed, went up to the house, put on coveralls, dug into the engine, made repairs and said, "Lets go". An experienced, professional pilot and aircraft mechanic all in one package.

John was full of wisdom and knowledge, learned through hard work, dedication and a drive to become successful. He came from very meager beginnings, leaving home at a very tender age with little or nothing but desire to achieve.

John did everything himself. He learned body and fender restoration in a business he started early in his career. He decided to become a Real Estate Developer and graded his own pads and built his own buildings. He farmed his own land, drilled his own water wells, graded his own land, harvested his own grain and flew and repaired his own plane. There seemed to be nothing John could not do or had not already done.

He was full of sayings and tidbits or wisdom, many of which I quote even to this day. He would tell me things that seemed hard to believe or would never come true, but sure enough, they did, he was right on, way ahead of the curve. From his wealth of knowledge, his teaching and mentoring, I consider John the most influential factor in my financial success.

Thank you John. May God bless you. I'll look forward to seeing you when we meet again.

Doug Elliott <>
Friday, January 07, 2005 at 17:05:22 (MST)
Why I would only lie to John once!
By Sandy Munson

John had a bunch of raisins that he grew himself. He offered some of them to me. I told John that I would make a pie with them and I took them home. A while later John calls and asked how the pie turned out and I told him great. In fact I had thrown them out just shortly before and did not have the heart to tell him so. Several days later John calls and asked how I got the stems off the raisins, I told him that I boiled them off. Later John calls back "Sandy, how long did you boil them, I've been standing here for two and a half hours boiling these damn raisins and I can't get the stems off". After a little silence I said "John, I'm sorry but I lied to you. I threw those raisins out and never made a pie and I feel so bad about lying". After a long silence John said "oooh" and hung up.

I promised that I would never lie to John again...

Friday, January 07, 2005 at 00:30:24 (MST)

From Loa Wilson, his sister


When I was a little kid about four years old we lived on a farm and John and his brother Lynn were teenagers. The house we lived in had a fireplace and in front of the fireplace was a big black bear rug. The bear rug was huge - at least to a 4 year old and it had an open mouth and all the teeth were showing. I hated it and never went into the room by myself.

One day when my father was gone, my mother asked John and Lynn to take the bear rug outside on the porch to air. One took the front, the other the back and put it over their heads and ran out with it and did a tour of the barnyard. All you could see were their legs running as fast as they could.

I guess bear scent must last forever as the horses stampeded and tore down the barnyard fence galloping in all directions, the cows followed, mooing, the sheep were in a rampage, baaing, pigs squealing and breaking out of their pens - all running in terror over the neighborhood.

Farmers were out trying to help and it was well into the next day before everything was rounded up.


John and his brother Lynn used to do electrical "experiments" with old car batteries upstairs in their room. At that time my oldest sister was dating my future brother-in-law and when he came to see her he usually brought me a candy treat. These "experiments" were generally performed during my brother-in-laws visits in the following manner: John and or Lynn would call me up to their room and tell me they needed my help on an "experiment". They told me that I could really help them a lot if I would press my finger as hard as I could on a spot on the battery and that only big kids could do it, but they would like to give me a chance. I, being 4 yrs. old, wanted to be a big kid so I would press on the spot and they would hook up the wires and give me a good jolt. I would run out of the room and downstairs crying. My future-brother-in-law didn't know what was going on but he had been victimized by their pranks, so he would sympathize with me and not only give me the candy but a nickel or a dime. After the tears stopped and my brother-in-law was gone, John would come around and say how much I had helped them with the "experiment". Then he would show me whatever tradeables he had in his pocket - sometimes dog-eared baseball trading cards or small black pebbles he had polished or a half-stick of gum. He always seemed to end up with the nickel or dime and sometimes even the candy.

Thursday, January 06, 2005 at 23:30:47 (MST)
John was first a good bank customer of mine and then we became friends. He was a tough businessman with great integrity. As his friend, I was able to enjoy his exciting stories of his many travels around the world.

I especially loved to hear about his summer trips where he took his three children on an airplane ride around the entire border of the United States. John also shared his experiences with celebrities in his younger years and the numerous airplanes he owned.

He was quite a collector of many beautiful items, the ones my husband, Sam, and I enjoyed were the pocket watches and antiques. John took us on serveral few memorable trips on his plane, he was quite a pilot. John was a very special friend and will be remembered fondly.

Judy White <>
Murrieta, CA - Thursday, January 06, 2005 at 16:41:17 (MST)

View John's Memorial

Photo Album