His name is John Winter. John was referred to me by another client in 2006. He was raised in New York, and I was a Jersey kid growing up, and we just hit it off. Some clients become friends. John was one of those.
John's daughter Trish (light of his life, and his only Tucson relative) emailed me Sunday afternoon to say that her Dad had died in his sleep on Saturday night.
Not possible! I had seen him Tuesday night for a couple of hours at a job search function, and he was excited about the possibility of a position with Asarco Mines Railroad Division. (John was an absolute genius with things mechanical, and that had come to the attention of Asarco's HR department.)
The new moon was bright as he said goodbye to me, mounted his big BMW motorcycle, and headed on home. I remember standing still in the parking lot, listening to the beautiful sound of that powerful BMW engine as it faded into the distance.
This morning as I write this post, (with thanks to John's sister Holly) there are two books on my desk next to me. Both were John's. One is John's address book, and I put it to good use yesterday afternoon. The other is his New Testament, and I'll have the privilege of reading from that this morning at his memorial service. (Please click that link.)
John's Address Book:
I spent the day yesterday calling people I don't know because they were in John's address book, inviting them to his memorial service. If you were special to John in some way, your name was in that address book. Clients, Real Estate agents, loan officers, friends, family, suppliers, even a contact at Barrett - Jackson, the classic car auction company. (John has a 1951 Dodge Woody.)
"You don't know me," I said, "but we both know John Winter." "Your name's written in his address book, along with your phone number. I'm calling to invite you to attend his memorial service tomorrow. We'd like to fill the room in John's memory for his daughter and family who are coming in from out of state."
John's New Testament:
I'll have the privilege in a couple of hours to read from the second book at John's memorial service. John's namesake is the Apostle John, who wrote in his gospel "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
You wouldn't peg my friend John as the stereotype the media has plastered on the Christian faith he held.
(Actually, I think it's safe to say that nothing about John Winter was stereotypical. Neither will be his memorial service, after which everyone will be invited next-door to the Bashful Bandit bar for a Tequila Toast to John.)
But a conversation we had one day while we were remodeling his kitchen stays with me. 9/11 hit him like a ton of bricks, especially as New York is John's hometown. We talked about the difference between two world views, one of which says "God wants you to die" and the other which says "God died for you, and wants you to live."
My friend John Winter held that second world view, as do I, and I expect to see him again.
EDIT: By 10:00 this morning, the chapel was half full. Tucson is a laid back town, so we didn't start on time. We waited another 15 minutes, and by the time we started remembering John in our stories, the room was full, and people were standing in the back.
From the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament: "The Lord bless you, and keep you. The Lord cause His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."