John is currently a Professor of History at Vanguard University. He is an avid writer who has published several books and has been teaching at different colleges for over 53 years.
We had the opportunity to catch up with him in the South Annex building where his office is located and hear more about his story. His office is decorated with sport and travel posters alongside a basketball he uses to shoot hoops with some of his coworkers throughout the week. Students and visitors will find a variety of pictures of his family on his desk. He also has a map on the back wall of his office where he marked the different interstate roads that he drove while visiting all 50 states.
Originally, John was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where he attended elementary school until he was seven before his family immigrated to the central coast of Santa Barbara, California, where his Dad was offered a job as a Professor at University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB). His Dad, also named John, was a teacher and Professor while his Mom, Norah, was a homemaker, who was a Quebecois being born in Montreal, Quebec. His parents met at The University of British Columbia and would later get married during the beginning of the great depression in 1929. They would have John and his younger brother, Doug, in Canada as well. John was nicknamed, "Straight Arrow" for his good kid persona while his brother was referred to as, " Crooked Bow" which reflected his energetic personality. Doug was a Unitarian pastor who also ran a camp and comfort center in Berkshire, Massachusetts, who is now retired.
During the lunchtime interview, John was digging into his lettuce and roast beef sandwich, saying, “ I grew up playing second base or sometimes shortstop in baseball so naturally, I wanted to be a pro – ballplayer in the MLB,” he jokes, “ But I never made it, so I had to go with history instead which turned out to be okay.” John’s family moved around the central coast as he recalls going to different elementary schools. In the third grade, he went to Peabody Elementary but finished at Garfield Elementary before going to La Cumbre Middle School. At the time, the duration of junior high school was three years.
After finishing junior high school, John attended Santa Barbara High where he made the varsity baseball team by his junior year. He laughs recalling a game where his team won the game but he was benched the whole time. Following his three years in high school, John was accepted into USCB where he studied history and political science. During this time, he had decided that he would want to pursue a career as a Professor and move forward with a trajectory in earning a PhD.
Without missing a beat, John graduated from UCSB in 1964 and would attend private Evanston based school, Northwestern University, in Illinois, to complete his dissertation in history. During this period, John had the opportunity to study abroad for a year at the University of Bordeaux, which is about six hours southwest of Paris, France. There, he learned to speak French and continues to be conversational today.
Upon graduating and receiving his PhD from Northwestern in 1971, John was offered an opportunity to work as a Professor at Minot State University in North Dakota, pronounced, "my-not," where he met his late wife named Mary. John remembers their introduction, " I walked into this building to meet with a Professor and saw this really beautiful girl sitting in the front who was the secretary at the time," he continues saying, " She told me the guy I was meeting was not in and to come back later." John was in love and eventually asked Mary on a date where they would get to know each other and drink Coca-Cola soda out of tall glass bottles. After dating for less than a year, they got married at an evangelical church called North Prairie, in Leeds, North Dakota.
Soon after, John and Mary had their two daughters, Amy, their first daughter who was born in 1969 and their second Christie who was born in 1972 both would later receive their teaching credential from Vanguard.
In 1976, John started as an acting chair of the social science division at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, which is an hour outside the capital of Topeka. He was the acting chair because he was not attending a Nazarene Church at the time and was not involved with that congregation. John remained and taught at Mid - America Nazarene for 13 years before receiving a letter from Dennis McNut, who was at Vanguard at the time. He was looking for recommendations to hire a History Professor in which John applied and accepted the position.
Since then, John has been teaching and working at VU for 31 years. Vanguard is so thankful for John and his contribution to the history department over the years. Fun fact, he published a Jackie Robinson biography which was translated in Chinese and sold more copies overseas than in the United States.
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