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John North Has Died

Our dear friend John North lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma, the same cancer that killed his father at age 62, on Monday, February 20, 2012. He was 85.

I wrote earlier about his “war” with this cancer that attacks the bone marrow. It’s incurable, but John vowed to fight it every step of the way. And he did.

See “John North Declares War” http://www.cbass.com/JohnNorth.htm

We received a letter from John in November of last year (2011) reporting that he was in his fifth month of remission. He had nothing but high praise for his oncologist, Dr. Archuleta, and was upbeat as always. He tired easily, but had no complaints otherwise. He then proceeded to give us a detailed tutorial on the precision shooting skills of police and military snipers. (Almost all of his letters told a story or described something that interested him--always in careful detail.)

He’d just watched a History Channel feature on famous Marine and Army snipers and some of their famous shots. “They had to figure the effect of gravity upon the fired bullet, along with the sideways push of even the slightest wind” he began. I have two accordion file folders full of letters like that from John. He was interested in many things and could write about most of them with great precision. His memory for detail and ability to express himself were flawless and on display in every letter. I never found a mis-spelled word or grammatical error in anything he wrote, by hand or typewriter. His body was weakening at the end, but his mind was always firing on all cylinders. 

John was good at anything and everything that interested him. He was an accomplished artist, focusing on wildlife and landscapes. If you spend the night in our guest bedroom you’ll be treated to one of his oil paintings. He could do marvelous things with his hands. He reveled in doing handyman work around the house; he could repair or build just about anything—always striving for perfection. He worked in a General Motors plant for many years and delighted in telling us about the automobile that he and his stepson restored from the ground up.

You’ll find more about John in my book Challenge Yourself. As I wrote there, John was one of the most positive men we’ve ever known. He challenged himself in every way he knew how. He wrote a hard-hitting personal memoir, but was never able to find a publisher. Carol and I were among the select few who read it; he really let it all hang out. If he’d been a celebrity—and not a retired General Motors worker—it might’ve been a best seller. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful friend. We will miss him terribly.

Our heart goes on to his devoted and loving wife, Lola—the joy of his life.  

This is our favorite photo of John, taken in 1997 with his step-grandson. It’s how we’ll always remember him.

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