Memoir of John


Memoir of John by his mother Janet Hardy
at his "Celebration of Life", April 11, 2004
in a building with a view of the Sea. 


"Very Essence"

"Is not general incivility
the very essence of love,"
Jane Austen said. 
Judging from
our God's
 Plan of Salvation
for us,
I must say he has
a very great love indeed. 
I hope
our God
is able to discern
the depth of 
my love for him
and my brethren
when I begin to giggle
on  Judgment Day. 
Such incivility
was always successful
for Jane's characters.
                               John Hardy




John Hardy was born on August 18, 1960.  It was a long, hot summer and I distinctly remember
going to the beach and making a hole in the sand so I could lay on my stomach while watching the ocean. 



Maybe that is where he got his first love of he sound of the sea. His father was working for Mansfield Mills, an investment firm in La Jolla, and I had just finished my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. We managed a small apartment complex in Pacific Beach on Felspar and I would rather take care of the yard than scrub the kitchen floor or do the dishes so we switched. 


Thus it was that I was mowing the lawn until I was almost due and the neighbors were quite concerned.    


Johnny, as he was called for some time, evidently did not want to come into this world at his due time. He fought it for a couple weeks till the doctors finally resorted to a fast cesarean and he spent a couple days in the incubator catching his breath.


However, from then on he really took off, teething at four months, crawling at five months.  My sister's Siamese cat was staying with us and the cat would sit just out of reach and Johnny would reach for his tail as he would swish it at him and then as soon as he touched the tail the cat would move a little farther and John would reach again, thus he was soon crawling. He was in a playpen in the corner of the small apartment and would walk along the edge at a very early age and then braved the precarious moving rope tied diagonally until he could walk that. He could walk well at 9 months.


He was always cautious and never took a bad tumble. This pace of rush, rush, and sleep as little as possible continued until age 16 when it finally caught up with him and he would lay for hours on the living room couch listening to his music and I remember names like Elton John and Rolling Stones.



When he was 10 months old he held his first fishing rod. I remember well the look on his face as my father put it in his hand while staying at my father's cabin in Silver Gate, just outside of Yellowstone Park. From then on he was hooked you might say.



Moving to University City when John was two gave him a huge sand pile to play in and he loved to create all kinds of things and loved baby Linda to join him. He had a little foot moving car and the little boy on the comer was always trying to take it away from him and Johnny would let him. 


The boy's father did not like this so he bought boxing gloves and showed his son and Johnny how to box. I think for years he carried it too far though as he loved to punch the girls and Jimmy in the arm every time he passed.


Moving again back down to a bigger newly built home in Pacific Beach we had a dirt backyard for a long time. Johnny loved it, with wood and nails and a hammer he was continually building and rebuilding forts and such. When we finally did the yard someone had given us an old fishing boat and that was the sandbox and then John's building was on the hill, a fort way off in the comer and we carved out a winding trail going up to it. Some older boys on the block liked to play with him and  I found Playboy magazine's up there once so I told the boys they could not bring those over anymore, after all John was only in second grade.


John came by his love for adventure naturally I believe. His great, great grandfather Lillywhite came from England when he was only 5 yrs old and crossed the plains with a handcart when he was 9.


 His great great grandparents came from Sweden one by one till their family was all in America by the late eighteen hundreds. His great great grandfathers Bunker and Earl came down from Canada and traveled with the Mormons from Nauvoo to Utah and then great, great grandfather Bunker traveled to Nevada and the town Bunkerville is named after him.


John had a great love for cars and trucks. He loved to stand by the couch and roll his big truck back and forth and he would always offer his trucks to an adult but never to another child.


When he was four he became very interested in doing what he called his "work". He was always busy, I never had to entertain him. We had built shelves in the Pacific Beach  home for him to put all his toys and games on and as a former kindergarten teacher I tried to teach him that you play with one toy and then put it away and get another one down. That did not work. He would take all the toys, games, one by one, and make them part of his creation in his room.


Game tokens became quite another thing in John's mind. One thing I did insist on is putting them all back in their proper places. This was not every day but when he was finished with his "work" and tiring of it.  I often had to sweep the things into small piles and bring the baskets and such around him as we put the things all back where thy belong. I like to think that early teaching of organization was partly responsible for the organization we found in his condo this past week. A place for everything and everything in it's place. John was always particular about his things and did not want other people messing with them--as I dropped one of his cd's on the floor this week I was almost sure he was looking down upon me with disapproval.
When he was five I noted he was loud and wild in the house and. always pestering the girls, indeed, he wanted a roommate of his own. He didn't think it was fair everyone had someone to sleep with but him.


Before Jimmy was born he became very interested in the pregnancy and asked lots of questions. We always had to be careful what we said around him because he would pick up on it and remember. He saw a mother on television enjoying playing with her baby and so he told me that "when the baby was born he and Linda and Maria would go outside and play so I could play with my baby and wouldn't that be nice?"


John always had to be collecting something-coins, stamps, shells, two tropical fish tanks, model railroad-there was no end to what he was interested in doing. One note I made was that he was always volunteering to talk in Sunday School and enjoyed preparing for it but when he talked he would close his mouth and speak like this and you could hardly hear him but in third grade he received his best mark in oral language and worst in handwriting--4th grade, capable student, has fine ideas--high marks in all areas but slow in written assignments. John could learn and remember just by hearing and did not want to write it down.


In fifth grade he was already a a good pitcher in baseball, played tennis and was proficient in skateboarding so now he wanted to start surfing. He seemed so young and his father didn't surf but I told him he could if he went to the City's Safe Surfing course. So he did and that was when he started drawing the surf curls on everything he did. When he was too young to bike or drive himself to the beach I would walk up and down on the beach with a huge yellow umbrella--that was his clue that it was time to come in from the sea  and come home. Some days I did a lot of walking. Oh, yes, by then we had moved to La Jolla Heights.   He was in the 3rd grade and that was when his father Richard had his first heart attack on April I when John was only 9.


Of course, I am a mother and generally only remember the good things but I do not remember John giving me much trouble.  He liked to do things his way and in his time and he would rather stay home and do his own thing than go on some of the family outings but generally he was a great kid. He would have a very messy room though until he was ready to pick it up himself--and his instruction on Friday was always--"Don't let the cleaning lady touch my room." In one of his letter's from college when he was in Utah I must have scolded him about something because he wrote back, "I'm bummed you think you blew it with me, I think I turned out rather well!"  And indeed he did. However, he was always very sensitive to criticism and he would not forget what you said.


John loved surfing and the boys began making surfboards in the children's play house. Jimmy can tell you more about that. Those early high school years of John's were fun for us all--he and his friends did not have girlfriends, I think they were all too shy, but they had fun together surfing and goofing off and would all come over to the house many afternoons and have Indian fry bread and whipped honey butter. We all liked to hang around and listen to their latest funny tales. 


When John was 8 we had had a little Indian boy Peter live us for a year and later an Indian boy named Bobby and we learned to love Indian fry bread.  Since John had so much fun with the boys at the house I had a birthday party for him when he was 16--all boys. They all went through with it but I don't think he really liked it.


In fact, once when he was working in his three piece suit as an accountant in LA I made the mistake of sending a balloon bouquet to his office. It must have embarrassed him because he said to me in a very kind but firm voice, "Don't ever do that again."  Moms make lots of mistakes. 


Although John was an excellent student there was a problem with him graduating. He had been tardy to his first period PE class too many times in his senior year and did not always suit upheaven forbid, and as I sat in the office with his counselor waiting for him to come from one of his classes to discuss the matter, the counselor was sure he had gotten the message and was just blowing it off. I was quite irate with the counselor for thinking that and told him soJohn had not gotten the message but came when he did. He graduated but had to take some other class in the summer to make up for it. Fortunately for John, who loved to learn anyway, it was probably not much of a punishment.


John was always his own person and did not like to take money from us that he had not earned. We always had business mailings the children could work on to earn money and John was the projectionist at the theater in La Jolla for years He could get his college homework done there. 


He also got his real estate license and helped in the business. In the early 80's he prepared foreclosed homes for resale--clean up, etc. We wanted the children to have the experience of bidding on a house at the stair steps of the courthouse and so we did and we got the house and painted and cleaned up and resold it and the children all made some money.  


However, after he was married when we encouraged him to do that with an Escondido home it turned out to be a huge mistake--too far away, too much work, too little money--big mistake. I think that was definitely the moment John lost all respect for the mortgage and real estate business. After high school John spent one quarter at BYU. He was the one with the messy side of the room rooming with Gary Gwin with the neat side. Gary, you must tour John's condo, you would not know it was the same John. Anyway he came back to California to finish school at UCSD--he loved Utah fishing and skiing but that was all, besides his girlfriend was in California. I saw that in one letter after a few details of school life he stated.  "'Nothing else even remotely exciting has happened."  
                                                                          
He married Jennifer and they had Meagan, who became the light of his life. I think the divorce 
two years later was one of those life changing events but he dealt with it and eventually made a 
new life for himself. The annual Hardy family ski vacation at Christmas at Park City became an important part of John and Meagan's life and I remember seeing Meagan ready to ski at age 4

We also had the family reunions at Big Bear in the summer and loved to have Meagan share as 
much time with our family as she could.  Hardy reunions in Nevada and California helped her to get to know her Hardy heritage.


John graduated from UCSD with a degree in History and I asked him what he could do with a History degree and he told me you could make interesting conversation while standing in the unemployment line, old joke I guess. Many people who have called have expressed over and over that indeed he was interesting to talk to. He had a minor in literature, from the time John was a tot he loved to study books and always loved to read. I had noted we were very proud of his graduation and he had a very high grade point average.


He then went on to get his MS in Accounting at San Diego State. John's favorite place to shop growing up was at the Salvation Army so I admit I was a bit concerned when I knew he was joining the corporate world and would be expected to wear suits and ties but he made the transition very well.


His first accounting job was with Peat, Marwick and Main from 1986-1993 and' John moved to EI Segundo. One of the letters he received after giving a presentation on "Consolidated Income Tax Returns" to an advanced tax accounting class while at Peat Marwick was how much the students had enjoyed the lively and informative discussion and especially the real world war stories in bridging the gap between theory and practice. "Your manner of presentation and professionalism were a credit to your firm."


In 1993 he was asked to be Countrywide Funding's first Tax Director.  He moved to Pasadena and bought his condo and married Jessica. I was a mortgage broker at the time and did his mortgage for him but since Countrywide had certain policies about family members doing a mortgage we got his loan at Bank of America. True to John's very thrifty behavior he paid extra each month to get it paid off early. John was worried when it looked like Countrywide was going to move their tax department to Silicon Valley. He did not want to go there so he recommended one of his friends for the job and moved on to Sanwa Bank as their Director of Taxation.  He explained to me about the problems with the way foreign banks with US branches were taxed so his job was to save the bank money.


In his evaluation it was noted that since their tax compliance was now in-house it had reduced their outside tax professional fees from $500,000 to $30,000. Also he had identified several tax credits that the Bank could claim worth in excess of $100,000 a year. He also identified tax errors from prior years thus obtaining a refund of over $100,000. He was also key in obtaining a very favorable settlement from past tax issues identifying errors related to the Nassau branch and obtained correcting adjustments well over $1,000,000 and also convinced the FTB regarding the Lloyds division, an issue worth over $3,000,000. Also he and his group had convinced the IRS to make another $600,000 adjustment so John's years from 1994-1996 were very good for Sanwa. I didn't understand all Sanwa said in their evaluation but then I couldn't even understand John's UCSD papers I used to type for him. In fact I remember one time as a teenager he was lecturing Linda about some new idea and when he got all through she just looked at him and said, "I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about".  It was his way of thinking--unique.


I don't know for sure why he then moved on to Ernst and Young from 1996 to 2003 but I noticed because of his relationship with Sanwa, Ernst and Young had a good working relationship with Sanwa.


In his review with them it was noted: John leads primarily by example. His willingness to get into a client situation, roll-up his sleeves and work on solutions to client issues, and get the job done are a great role model for our staff. His success in this area was demonstrated by an unsolicited message from the Ford Tax Director, a mega-account, who worked with John on a state and local project this past year and Rich Magneson, partner in Pac Southwest, also gave John high marks on his client service capabilities. Sounded like he "leveraged his knowledge" as they said. John took time off last year for travel and was working with Moffett, Grigorian & Taylor as a consultant and I am sure Marty can tell you more about that.


John was not someone I talked to on a daily or even a weekly basis but whenever we did talk he always seemed happy to talk to me but I still never heard about any accomplishments in his career--just about his latest planned trip, if even that. And he was never much for conventional gift giving so when he gave you something you knew he really wanted you to have it. I especially treasured a beautiful rock and coral he brought me once and this started me on picking up a small rock from my travels Norway, Maryland, Guam, a nice tradition though probably illegal or something. Last summer I spent a few days with him and was admiring some of his pictures. He immediately took me to the frame store and framed my choices and said he would love to have some of his work in my home. I'm glad I have them hanging on my walls. Photography had become a consuming passion for him.


Just one of his passions. In helping Meagan sort through his papers I saw that he had just enrolled in a class to become a certified Archaeologist--I still have 41 tapes of his Astronomy class from Berkeley and in his shelves he also has many other video classes in literature and art and Understanding Great Music. Always wanting to learn more. In fact the TV in his home is very small and not even a very good pictureI think it was his friend Cathy who said he stated, "Uh, who needs that."


He has numerous high bookshelves all full and probably all read. He has many smaller shelves of all his cds, most of whom are artists I have never heard of, a lot of jazz and blues, in fact that is the music you are hearing here today.


He had very much enjoyed salsa dancing in the last few years, started it with Quinnie, I believe. When he was in Junior High he wanted to take ballet because he had read that the athletes, I think he said football players, in Russia had to take ballet to learn coordination so he took that for awhile and enjoyed it. He was also a brown belt in Karate. 


John took his first big trip to Eastern Europe in 1992. Since then he has traveled to Alaska, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Himalayas, Base Camp of Mt Everest, Peru and of course, always the Sierras and Yellowstone area.  

 

Jimmy can tell you how he got into hiking as a passion.  Actually it was through scouting and hiking in the Sierras with Jimmy and his Scoutmasters.  Later he would go alone, with Meagan, Jimmy,  or Jessica, whoever he could talk into backpacking with him.


John's Last Big Catch
It was quite a revelation to find all the writing that he has done in both poetry and stories and lately trying his hand at screen writing--always a new adventure, something more to learn, something more to do. I pray he enjoys the adventure he is on now. We will miss him greatly and  I loved him dearly.  



..............................................................................................................
 Thoughts from John's friend Matt Recksieck

After the memorial service, I still had more to say.  John's life was well-covered at the service, even though I believe most were stunned by his early departure from this earth.  however, there was still more I wanted to say.


I don't know if it's simply because I don't want to let go of him- or that part of my life - or if it's because I just don't want to leave any stone unturned as John was that interesting to me.  John was also a turner of rocks.  There was something always to be learned by him.


I knew John in several different contexts, but there was always a cool enthusiasm about him.  He really loved his family.  He showed pride over his brother and sisters like I think only a first born can, having seen each and everyone of them come home from the hospital as infants.


I didn't meet John until a couple of weeks before his 13th birthday.  I met and first knew him through surfing.  Then school...then his home life...then through the forming of his own family.  But it was always his passion and intellectual curiosity that drew me toward him.  And like all friendships, it's hard to pin-point all the reasons why.

To some surfing is simply a youthful outlet.  In fact, I imagine that it is really boring for them-those not actually afflicted with the surfing disease-to listen to surfers talk about it.  To me, however, one of the major afflictions associated with surfing is that it leads to a passion for style, self-discovery, and poetry.  John Hardy was a surfer along with everything else he was.

Surfing at its best leads to concentration in the moment.  Poetry is nothing more than this.  John was very good at picking up on this.  It was something I admired about him.  He blew my mind away at times.  It's a love we shared.  John's never ending quest to be inspired, stoked, or awed dominated his approach to life.  He had the intelligence to be able to discipline himself in this regard.  He also had the passion to be able to pull it off.  John was a very successful poet.

Like all good poetry, elements of life must be focused and brought together in a very short period of  time.  This is what John brought to many people around him in his decisiveness.

John's creativity showed very early in his life.  He was well read as a teenager (yet nowhere near what he would become.)  John's desire to speak out was not going to wait for him to get over his shy and sometimes awkward nature.

John Douglas (John's best friend) and I were constantly amused by John's habit of making up words. 'That's not a word', we would basically argue with him.  'Oh, yeah', he'd basically say, 'here's what it means.'  We'd laugh, but there was usually a good usage for the word.  After awhile we would still laugh, but I recall myself pretty much just accepting the new lexicon.  It sounded good enough, and often you didn't know for sure.  It could have been a word.

John became so proficient at his ability to utter meaning into made up or mispronounced words, that he'd dare even use them in Scrabble.  Unless you had a dictionary right next to you, and laid out strict rules, you were often out of luck with John.  You'd give him the points rather than disrupt any possible meaning or fun.

To me, this carried into John's whole philosophy of life.  John's brother, Jim (or Jimmy), at the memorial service, briefly mentioned John's first attempt to glass a surfboard in their backyard playroom shed.  Jimmy made the comment that it wasn't very good by professional standards, but that the passion that was put into it was second to none.  I concur, but there was another thing John Douglas and I use to laugh about it in connection to this.

John (Hardy) made a gesture of pointing out to us that there were parts of his glass job that were perfect.  He took the thumb and forefinger of his hands, and joined them together to make a square.  He placed the box created by his hands over a section of the glass job that was very clean, and said, 'Look, perfection.'  This was an outlook of John's that I try to keep with me in my life perception today.  There is perfection...you just have to look for it...you have to look away from peering directly at that which isn't.  Eventually things come into focus-even that which might not be perfect, can become perfect.  This is the philosophical statement that epitomizes John's take on life to me.

At the memorial service, John's secret surf spot, Bathtub Rock, was mentioned several times. (I'll let the secret completely out of the bag if you want to go: it's at the end of the beach trail of Torrey Pines State Park.)  All John's surfing buddies knew it wasn't a very good surf spot, but did we believe it wasn't perfect: 'No'.  John made it that way, and so we believed him.

Feel free to go down there yourself (even if you don't surf...in fact, it's probably actually better if you don't).  I think you can experience the place's beauty if you knew John.  It's not the most beautiful stretch of beach you have ever seen either.  But if you go down there and begin listening to the hype in John's voice 'concerting' (a verb I feel John could appreciate) the place, you may begin to believe yourself, that it is a beautiful secret spot-bordering on 'perfection'.  That's the way John worked you into believing.  There was no trick involved.  It was only a treat to be experienced.

I know John went through some tough times.  I know it's not possible for things to be rosy all the time as a human being either.  Living passionately has major repercussions as well.  I believe that John's thirst for knowledge, love, and humor kept him going.

I'm not quite so sure when it was that John fell in love with Jennifer, but I knew by high school that he had.  Someone will have to fill me in on all the details as to exactly when because I remember about a week or two before our high school prom, Ladd El Wardoni and I didn't have dates.  We were sitting around with John Hardy one afternoon and ended up drafting a solicitation flyer for prom dates to post on a bulletin board at our school.  (It was one of those flyers with cut slit strips at the bottom of the notice, with phone numbers, like a teenager babysitter or gardener would use to solicit business.)  We wrote ourselves up as quite the catches.  The more we wrote, the funnier it became to us.  The funniest part was the sheer number of phone numbers we provided at the bottom of the billing.  The advertisement had John Hardy written all over it.  Although all three of us were, I'd say, very shy, it was so funny  to us, that we had to put it up--besides I think we all truly needed dates.

I remember going down to the school on a Saturday evening and pinning the flyer up to the main bulletin board in the lunch court at school.  It lasted there all the way until Sunday evening when I went to take it down the night before school was back in session.  I chickened out.  I recall Ladd and John not being too upset.  I believe we all got dates in the more conventional prom way: by putting our feelers out through friends and finding out which girls needed dates themselves, and who we were either supposed to take, or could take.  I'm pretty sure John was there with Jennifer-if he was there at all.  Regardless of the outcome, I'm sure I thought John did it in James Bond fashion.

John's mom, Janet, mentioned at the memorial service the technical issue that kept John from graduating high school without having to go to summer school to receive his GED.  To Mrs. Hardy this might have been a problem, but to John's friends I know it wasn't.  I'm certain that it added to John's lore to most of us...You mean you can actually get a GED?  What have we been doing this whole time?  I believe we saw John just being more of a trendsetter.

John's life becomes very fuzzy to me at this point.  Gary Gwyn filled me as to why at the service.  John went to BYU with him during the fall of 78. I couldn't quite figure out the year John married Jennifer, it was late winter or early spring of 1980.

There was a wedding.  And then there was Meagan.  And in the pictures of John  at his wedding, shown at the memorial service, there was love in John's face.  He wasn't scared.

I remember going to the married student housing at UCSD where John and Jennifer lived and were raising Meagan as an infant.  I remember going to the apartment and being unnerved by the responsibility they were facing.  John seemed cool with everything--amidst the love of his life--and wasn't scared.

I recall my first born twins and how protective I was of them.  John was different.  He allowed all his friends to hold Meagan even though we seemed extremely awkward in doing so.  We were more scared than he was about it.  John's storyline wasn't quite following a typical James Bond movie and yet he was happy about it.

Unfortunately--or somewhat unfortunately--another one of John's movie idols was King Arthur of Camelot.  I recall watching the Richard Harris version of Camelot many times over at the Hardy home; in fact, every bit as much as James Bond.  I recently rented the Camelot (less than half a year ago), and I couldn't help but think of John and Jennifer while watching it.  It continues to be something that saddens me in real life when I think of John and Jennifer in the context of the movie.  John's love for Jennifer was much like that of King Arthur for Guinevere.

John moved on to new roles after the marriage--just as I suppose Richard Harris went on to new movies.  I can relate John to another role Richard Harris played long after King Arthur, and that is the role of Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter.  John was a teacher, cared about morality, and was very conscious of 'free will' in the will of God on this planet. There was something very prophetic about John even at a very early age.

I recall John once telling me about a book he had just finished reading.  It was called, "Against the Grain." It was about a character that lived his life in such an 'against the grain' manner.  He told me that I should read the book because the character reminded him of me.  I never read the book because I knew what John was telling me already. 

One can easily ask what's so remarkable about that, but this was in early high school, and no one I knew had ever talked to me in such a matter of fact, literary fashion, saying, this guy's you.  It's something I've always remembered.  I took it to heart.  And as I listened to some of the stories at the memorial service, I could hear that I wasn't alone in this.  John lived portions of his life 'Against the Grain' as well.  When I look back, I can see that a lot of the UCSD schooled surfers in our group actually did too.  We were trying to thrive amongst several very different cultures.

Another prophetic statement John made to me while we were still in high school was something to the effect, "Matt--you are probably one of those people who won't come into their own until they are much older, like when they become a father, or something."  I can surely say he got that one right.  It's interesting to know someone who is either so well read, or knows themselves so well, or both, at such a young age, that they can perceive the commonalities amongst people.  John saw things really early in life.

After John's day at BYU and while he was studying at UCSD, I recall running in to him one day while he was registering for classes.  He was having a particularly rough go of it....waiting in line, and basically getting the run around for something or another--perhaps the transfer of credits from BYU--I can't exactly recall.  I just remember that most people would have been complaining up a storm.  What John told me instead--and has stuck with me verbatim every since--is, "A little bit of progress in administrative matters goes a long way."  I don't know too many people other than John that would have come up with that at that moment in time.  Words, of course, I try to--and sometimes--live by.

I lost contact with John for a couple years after this particular period in his life.  In fact, I lost contact with all my old friends for years.  I had become deeply involved with a yoga group.  It was very intense.  So intense, that I can only now say that I was in a cult.  Somehow, amidst all my good intentions, I was trying to lose my mind on purpose.  When it reached well beyond crisis time, however, I started moving my mind out side the group, yet still remaining very attached to the group.  (A lot of my teenage and early twenties' friends still know me at this time, but I was the one who had actually fallen off the face of the earth, and was referred to as such in conversation.)  I started contacting old friends more and more though.  John was a very important friend for me to have contacted at that time.

John was attending San Diego State, studying for his Master's Degree in Accounting at the time.  He had faced his divorce and was rebuilding himself.  It was in the fall/winter of 1985/86.  (It was at the time of some of the bar trips which Ladd El Wardoni alluded to at the memorial service.  I know because I attended with them once or twice, but my head wasn't much there in terms of what they were trying to accomplish.  In fact my head is still foggy on what they were trying to accomplish.)  It was a time when Ladd and John seemed to be becoming closer friends.

I talked to a lot of old friends.  Each conversation was beneficial to me.  But I remember asking John to go to lunch with me one day.  He didn't have any particular idea what my problem might be, but he said, yes, and that it would be fun.

John picked a restaurant to go to near San Diego State.  Naturally it was a greasy spoon type of restaurant, as John always thought that the best food was found in the hole-in the-wall type of places.  And again, regardless of whether this is true or not--coupled with the fact that I have a tendency to agree with this type of reasoning--I was with John, and would have no doubt believed him that the food was the best around anyway.

I talked with John for an extended lunch.  I could easily tell him about certain problems I was facing despite not having spoken with him for years.  The most interesting part was that I knew I couldn't speak over his head philosophically.  I knew that he had read almost all of those brain damaging philosophers/writers that I only saw on my father's bookshelf growing up.  John had not only read most of the folks, but he could tell me what was cool about certain ones; and exactly when or where he thought they were full of it.  He actually read philosophy for enjoyment and not only as a challenge. (If I had ever cracked even a page or two in any one of them, it was merely as an exercise in self-denial--my mind saw their thoughts as headaches, not as possible eye openers.)  I couldn't impress or shock John with any of my philosophical confusion.

We end up talking about the food, what John was doing back in school, his divorce, what exciting thoughts he had had recently, and generally, what was simply cool with him at the time.  All of a sudden, I'm having a good time, and am back in a sane state of mind.  There was no judgment about what the hell I was trying to accomplish through an intense yoga regime; there was only the excitement of what he was pursuing in his life.  He had focused things just perfectly for me that day--no doubt.

From there, we went on about our way and our lives for the next 18 years.  I got married with a readymade family.  John married a second time.  We talked on average on the phone about once every 6 years.  Whenever I ran into John Douglas or Ladd El Wardoni,  I always wanted to hear the latest update concerning John.  When I heard that John got divorced a second time, I know that I mentioned to my sister that John was available.  However, with about as much control as I had been able to exhibit in order to visit John over a period of 12 or so years, I couldn't control my sister's fate any better.

I learned a very important thing from my friendship with John though, and that is to pick your friends wisely, and remain true to them even if you don't actually see them much.  I still feel that John is a good friend.  I need to acknowledge my youthful friends that had an impact on me as well.  People like John Douglas, Ladd El Wardoni, Roger Youngdale, Geoff Cleveland; and perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, Dave and Monte Frankel, Cordon Baesel, Mark Yeckel, Eric Orloff, and even to a smaller degree, people like, Gary Gwyn and Scott Bush; people that bring a smile to my face practically every time I think of then.  There are so many people I have known since spending time with any of these folks. Does this detract from our friendship?  I suppose like many things it's a question neither worth posing nor answering.

It was interesting for me to listen to John's business acquaintances from Los Angeles.  It was like any friend of John's was a friend of yours.  We all knew John had some brilliant ideas.  We knew that this extended very much into the business world.  There was a marketing idea that I wanted to get up and tell John's business acquaintances about.  In fact, I still want to mention John's idea in the late 70's) (shortly after the Pet Rock) regarding the selling of small vials of sand of the premiere surf spots around the world (although it was only a localized venture at the time, to sell the sand of La Jolla Shores, Windandsea, Black's Beach, and that holy Mecca of surfing, Bathtub Rock).  I still believe the idea would work.  however, you never knew whether John was kidding about it or not.  We had all seen sillier stuff make fortunes, and we know John wasn't above getting dirty or sandy, but the rest of us were simply too sensible not to laugh.

I'm sure if someone put some serious time in effort in to it today, they could pull it off.  John, as usual, was ahead of his time. (I'm surprised he wasn't on the surf school bandwagon when it first began--getting paid to hang out at the beach--and share the surf experience for a stipend.)  Regardless, I feel the need to get down to Bathtub Rock in the near future, and pick up a bottle of sand before it either runs out, or just so I can remember how beautiful that place was when traveling with John.  For what it's worth, John's memorial service truly was one of the first services I've ever been to where I believe that I celebrated a life more than I felt lousy at it.  Thanks for hearing me out here. 
                                                                                                                 Matt Recksieck
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My first memory of John was John at the piano effortlessly making beautiful music.  My memories of John is a highly intelligent, rather quiet, and with a warm, beautiful smile.  He has always had a warm spot in my heart.  -Connie Nickel

John was my boss at E&Y.  But we soon became friends when we discovered our mutual fascination for "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" TV show.  We soon realized we had much in common as far as films and literature was concerned.  However, it was food that gave us the most pleasure!  I will miss my friend--but he will never be far from my mind when I visit a new restaurant. -Betty Kwan

At 'Celebration of Life' April 11, 2004 

John and I met on a YMCA surf trip to Baja in 1973.  There are all sorts of memories I have about John.  Everybody will have their own.  One thing I remember vividly about John, however, was how non-judgmental he was.  He was full of opinions, but he wasn't really judgmental of others.  One time when John was going to San Diego State for his Master's I called him to go to lunch with me.  I was in somewhat of a spiritual crisis with my life at the time.  I felt really heavy in my concerns with life.  John was no different than ever--full of enthusiasm for what he was involved in.  He talked like there was no problems at all.  No sooner do I have myself believing that life was good.  He's enjoying himself, I'm enjoying myself, so what's the problem?  I think John had this ability to rub off on people in a positive sense.  As a quality you can add to John's life, I believe his ability to be non-judgmental was one of the big secrets he had in his successful and full life. -Matt Recksieck

Vg's Donut Shop, Hanging out with John at the Hardy's, Tiger Milk Bars, Vince Buzz, Shaping Shack, His Love of Love (Romantic), Blues-Lou Reed-Charlie Parker, John teaching himself to play the piano, Insatiable thirst to learn and teach, Love of Life, Love for his Daughter Meagan. -Rick Eiler

John was an amazing guy, always curious about everything.  John and I worked together at Peat Marwick and then I followed him to Sanwa Bank.  I will always remember his passion for life. -Sue Smiley 

John was about a week old.  My husband Stan and I drove to San Diego to pick up my mother who had been helping Janet.  While Janet and I were changing diapers John stretched out his little legs and squirted us both in the face!  Also while visiting us in Utah one winter John was about 3 years old and watching it snow outside.  He'd never seen snow before.  As it piled up I thought he'd like to go out and play in it. "No," he said, "It's too girty (dirty)." -Jeanne Thayne

At 'Celebration of Life' April 11, 2004

 I remember sharing Thanksgiving Dinner at James and Camber's home a few years ago.  John was there as well.  It was my first and only time meeting John.  The three of us (John, James and I) went for a drive to Carlsbad State beach, as John wanted to get a quick surf in before dinner.  I remember John and James recalling earlier years, surfing, and stories as youngsters.  John had an infectious spirit and energy.  I heard stories of his travels and adventures.  We all shared a great meal.  I will remember him fondly. -Bruce Fulmer

John was such a wonderful, warm and unique person.  I am thankful he was my friend for the past 10 years.  Late Sunday, my husband and I went  to one of our favorite places and watched the sunset.  It was very hard to say goodbye  to John.  Bill and I recalled many wonderful times we spent with John...You should be proud you raised such a wonderful person. -Barbara and Bill

I remember bumping into John-literally-on the sidewalk in Los Angles, not realizing that his office was only a block or two from my own.  I always enjoyed talking with him about his interesting and diverse passions and occasionally having the opportunity to ride the chairlift with him in Park City (if I could keep up with him,  he was an amazingly fast and graceful skier).  He was a humble, generous, warm-hearted person, clearly devoted to Meagan.  They always seemed to have such a tender relationship; he was an inspiration to me as a parent.  I'll miss him a lot. -Anne Boris

 I only remember John as a young boy.  Thanks for sharing his website.  He did some great things and had amazing experiences in this world.  He has a beautiful daughter. - Debbie Brusehaver

At 'Celebration of Life' April 11, 2004

I'm so sorry about John.  His friendship meant so much to me when I was in California.  I wish I had stayed in touch.  His website is great.  I'm glad he got to do all that traveling before he went.  He was a great son and you and Richard were great parents.  He won't be forgotten. -Sherry Smith 

John was an exceptional person whom I enjoyed so much.  He was brilliant, charming and fascinating with his stories of adventure.  He was truly an inspiration to me and a proud reflection of his parents.  I will never forget his smile and his demure presence.  He touched my heart as I'm sure he did with many others. -Susan Sutehall

I worked with John years ago when I lived in LA at KPMG. John was a kind and quiet soul with many interests and fascinations, I will always remember him. -Michelle Vertaine

John was on my trip to Bhutan in 2002.  He impressed me as a sensitive and thoughtful man.  He was a great addition to the trip.  He made friends with some local people and kept in touch with them afterwards.  He enjoyed nature and appreciated the Bhutanese culture and respect for the environment.  He spoke of his daughter with love and was planning a hiking trip with her in the following summer. I hope he had the opportunity to do many of the things he loved to do. -Kate Froman

The way I am right now mostly John should get the credit, he pulled me up from an ordinary girl to an outdoor, interesting girl, I appreciate and thank God he is still in my life. -Quinnie Lee

John came and fished at my house a lot.  He showed me stuff in Karate. -Mitch Valko

At 'Celebration of  Life' April 11, 2004

Vince Buzz! Jimmy would never tell me who he was, but he was always around. -Laurel

John came to winter in Park City. -Tanner Pulsipher

John would visit me and my two girls in Anaheim when I lived there in the 80's.  Such a wonderful, accepting friend.  He was non-judgemental and made everyone feel so special  I was so blessed to have a few memories and his friendship -Gina (Thayne) Frye

I was never very sure about John.  He was quiet and seemed very introvert, yet he always made me feel welcome in his and Meagan's family.  I'll never forget him schooling me on the art of karate on one of the ski trips to Utah.  You always have more respect for a man that puts you in an arm lock and wrestles you to the ground.  I'll miss him. -Matt Massey

I worked with John at E&Y.  John was a great co-worker and a good friend.  I will miss him. - Tim


Photo by John Hardy