Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

My Gentle John

John claimed any self-respecting Irishman best be able to tell an entertaining story. I hope I can tell his tale with enough charm and color to give you a sense of the depth of his character.

The Beginning:
John was born August 13, 1945 and grew up in a tough Chicago neighborhood wildly straddling the two worlds of big city kid and rural cowboy.

Under the guidance of his parents, Josephine and Arthur, he learned to live with a fun-loving heart, to never give up and champion those he cared for. He ran the streets with brother Jim as other siblings…JoAnn, Bill and Rich…endured his impetuous ways.

He graduated Kelly High School with an insatiable appetite for learning and went on to receive a master’s degree from SIU Carbondale.

Coming from a large extended Irish family, St. Patrick’s Day was John’s favorite holiday and he carried that into his adult years with his own children and grandchildren.

The Middle:
John lived a full and varied life in Missouri…..family man, educator, college administrator, professional musician, horseman, motorcycle enthusiast, photographer, camp host, gardener, curious adventurer and world traveler. He made his livelihood for many years by being attuned to the needs of others.

John worked at Mineral Area College for 27 years in the audio visual department, Learning Center, as a photography and touring cycling instructor. When I met him, he was Director of Continuing Education.

1992 found John on one of his biggest adventures. With partner Tom, he retraced the 1804-06 journey of Lewis and Clark in three and a half months starting in St. Louis and ending at Fort Clatsop in Oregon. Gaining national publicity, Tom and John were the first team to retrace Lewis and Clark’s historic 4,000 mile expedition by boat, canoe, bicycle and horseback.

He was an accomplished musician of over 40 years playing in scores of local bands. His signature songs were Blackbird, Over the Rainbow, Sultans of Swing and Troubadour.
His latest trio was The Ridge Runners.

John married me in 1998 and became co-host at our off-the-grid Earthcamp singing and telling stories around the campfire and meeting every camper’s need with genuine generosity.

John wholly cherished his grandchildren. They were his light. He was an amazing Grandpa with belly laughs, dancing and rowdy play time; teaching chess, guitar, basketball and carpentry skills.

John did not realize the breadth and depth of his influence on his family and friends. He was a true gentleman who cared more about the welfare of others than himself.

The End:
In 2002 John was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

My husband was a fighter and rarely complained. He moved through each health trial with the dignity of a warrior. We shared a powerfully personal experience that solidified our soul bond as he recovered from each surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

My sweet man made his transition February 26, 2018 at home surrounded by family and friends playing music and singing. There is a vacancy in the world… a magical presence has departed. John will be sharing his music and laughter from the other side. He will be deeply missed.

“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”

– Irish blessing

Check out Pat Tuholske’s “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship at pattuholske.com. See her Wild Wreaths, Wheels, Twig Art and Native Herbal Remedy (aka Essiac) crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com