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John died peacefully at home on the 25th of October. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; sister, Jane (Doug);nephew, Shawn (Vanessa); niece, Colleen; and many friends and colleagues.

He was called “The King” by some and was a legend to many. Fiercely loyal, generous to a fault, commanding, and demanding, he lived life on his terms, driven by his strong sense of values, his honesty, and his lack of concern about what others thought.

He had a long and varied work life, as a mechanic, waiter, director, stockbroker, and consultant. But work did not define him. While he read voraciously and loved sports, one of John’s greatest gifts was his intense interest in people and his ability to find and cultivate the gems. Complete strangers were often invited home for a meal or to stay. There were years of chaotic Sunday and holiday dinners for his ‘orphans’ and those new to Vancouver. This and his genuine desire to help people made him lasting friends.

John had polio as a child but fought his way out of wheelchairs and braces to walk freely, run, play tennis and baseball through most of his adult life only to face rapid decline and extraordinary pain in his 50’s due to post-polio syndrome. After decades of this intense pain and decreasing ability, when willpower alone was not enough, John died on his own terms, strong and courageous to the end. His last days were filled with visits from friends and family, some he hadn’t seen in years. Given the stories and the laughter, it was clear that he had touched the hearts and minds of many.

He is pain free now. We see him striding along in another dimension, surrounded by his dogs, beverage in hand, looking back over his shoulder and telling us somehow to “come on now, keep up.” And “keep up” we will.

Condolence Messages

  1. Jim

    16 November 2021 11 months ago

    For more than 50 years I was able to call John one of my favourite friends. He was always funnier than me and smarter than me and had much better hair than me. I often came to him for advice when I’d ask for it or to take my side when that was what was needed. That aside, I think my favourite times with John were at dinner tables or restaurants or in the pub. That’s often where John got the loudest…entertaining and charming anyone that came near with his loud laughter and his fierce loyalty. Hopefully, wherever he is, he saved me a seat.

  2. Linda Robbins

    14 November 2021 11 months ago

    Very sorry to hear about John. He was a lovely, humorous guy, smart and caring.
    I met him early in in my ‘hippie days’. I had high regard for him.
    I lost touch with him only saw him a few times after that.
    But I certainly remember him very fondly.

  3. John Waller | Fernand Rioux

    14 November 2021 11 months ago

    Fernand and I were very moved to hear about John’s death. He left this world in his own way and on his own terms. He left this world while keeping his dignity intact. He left this world assisted and accompanied by those who loved him. These are things that we will keep in our minds and hearts.

  4. June Maynard

    14 November 2021 11 months ago

    I met John at SFU about 1970 – the memory is fuzzy – and we became part of a circle of friends for several years then lost touch as happens. I remember an adventurous spirit and lots of laughter. My sincere sympathy to his family. June Maynard

  5. Ron Pratt

    13 November 2021 11 months ago

    I didn’t know John, but his story is so much like my recently deceased wife’s that I had to respond.

    Terry was just two months older than John, and she endured the same kind of long-term pain and eventual disabilitation, for the same reason — post-polio syndrome. She avoided childhood paralysis, but in her 60s the disease came roaring back. She died, also on her own terms, still in control of her life, shortened though it was.

    You who knew and loved John have a stranger’s deepest sympathy — and some measure of understanding of what John and your family endured.

    May time heal all of our wounds, so that we remember only the good things!

  6. John Grabher

    12 November 2021 11 months ago

    I met John at Burns Fry many years ago, where we worked together. We had many good times and laughs, i will miss John, and send condolences to his family.

  7. Lilia Murnane

    12 November 2021 11 months ago

    Patricia ,

    Deepest sympathy


  8. Christine and Ian

    28 October 2021 11 months ago

    The John we’ve known for the last 36 years did everything in his life with his own unique style, energy and courage, so it’s not surprising that he left this world the same way. The dignity and strength he showed were inspiring.
    We loved him for his sense of humour, intelligence, generosity and strong character. We respected him for taking the tough cards he was dealt and playing them so masterfully to help create the good life you shared with him for so long. We will always remember that you and John introduced us and we are forever in your debt for that gift. He will never be forgotten in our home and we will miss him always.
    The way you have persevered and thrived through some very trying times for you both, with grace, strength and resilience, has been amazing. We both love and respect you very much.

  9. Nancy

    28 October 2021 11 months ago

    dear John, kindness and generosity is what I will remember as well as the complexities of a bright being. And adventures and great stories! Taking Stevie Wonder for drinks at the Four Seasons (really?) or at the bar with Leonard Cohen (huh?) or the Italian downhill ski racer who needed somewhere to stay, the fellow who cleaned your windows (though not really). He did a mean Jagger immitation too! He will be missed by those who love him and memories of the good times shared with him will keep him close. He certainly left the mark of his place in our lives.

  10. Jean-Louis

    28 October 2021 11 months ago

    He was a big-hearted knight, a gentleman through and through.
    Hats off Johnny. Farewell

  11. Barb

    28 October 2021 11 months ago

    Pat, I had been thinking about you and John these past couple of months especially. Take time to reflect on your great times together.
    Much love to you.

  12. Ronaldo Norden

    27 October 2021 11 months ago

    Dear Patricia,
    So so sorry for your sorrow, the loss of John,your beloved. Within my life, my memory l will always hold him dearly, one of the sanest men l have ever known, even in the midst of his physical misery.My fondest memories of him are around your Wise Island home experience and how he and l did some landscaping together, always enthusiastic.
    And now is your time for healing which will be a long journey, a huge part of your life is absent.l find myself thinking a lot about our shared travel time in India, how centered and forthright you were there, and still are. That travel experience in the ancient culture of India l feel for all of us has bonded us together, enriching for all of us on so many unsaid levels.And with time your healing, your life will stabilize and your creativity will continue to emerge, supporting others and yourself. A wonderful gift you have.
    Loving you more for this journey you are going through, my dearest, Ronaldo

  13. Val Embree

    27 October 2021 11 months ago

    Hooray for John and this place he has taken and takes still in this world. So glad for the portrait of him here, and for the time I’ve had with him.

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