John was born on June 6, 1950 in Detroit, MI. He was the younger son of Burt and Della Witherell. The family moved to St. Clair Shores where John spent most of his childhood, graduating from Lakeview High School in 1968. He attended Wayne State University where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration. John worked at Detroit Edison (later DTE) for 34 years until his retirement in 2012. He is survived by his brother Thomas (Donna Doebler), his wife Liz, his daughter Sara (Paul Distelzweig) and grandson Henry.
John loved life and had many talents and interests. He and Liz traveled extensively in the United States and across the globe. John was interested in learning about the history, geography and culture of all people. One of his favorite sayings was "Travel is the passport to peace." He kept copious travel logs which he later bound with his photos into hard cover books.
John always had a keen interest in photography. He carried his camera everywhere and there was no event he left undocumented in some form of media. John filled walls of bookcases with his photos until he decided to transfer everything to digital format.
John was a talented artist and loved to draw. He made lovely pencil portraits of family members and other subjects. He also took artistic photos of flowers which he printed on cards and sold at the Detroit Artists' Market.
John had a serious side which compelled him to want to make the world a better place, especially for the poor. He was a member of the St. Ambrose Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for which he served as Treasurer for six years.
His interest in genealogy made him reach out to all of our of family members. His bother-in-law Bill called him the patron saint of the extended family. He recently gathered his father-in-law's writings into a beautiful book of humorous short stories found as he searched for documents to compile an extended family tree.
Perhaps the most special thing about John was his kindness and sincere love of other people He was often the most approachable person in any room. He listened without judgement and laughed without hesitation. The fact that life is a gift was never lost on him.
Visitation for John will take place on Sunday, November 21st, from 3:00pm - 7:00pm at Chas. Verheyden, Inc., 16300 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park. Funeral Monday, November 22nd; Instate 10:00am until the time of Mass, 11:00am, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 15020 Hampton, Grosse Pointe Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the St. Ambrose Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, would be appreciated.
This is such a hard and sudden loss. We were just together eating, and enjoying each other's company a few weeks ago. John and I met in grade school. He was always sweet, kind and had a smile on his face. We danced together at the first Junior High School dance. We attended Wayne State at the same time but then lost contact with one another. But we re-connected about 5 years ago and every time with John and Liz was wonderful. I will always remember the evening they sat at my table with my 96-year-old mother and lovingly listened to her story of her life and living in NYC. I will miss his wit, his smile, his intellect, his kindness and genuine spirit.
I know John loved God and I know this because I saw how he loved everyone else around him. He loved Liz and his family. He loved life and travel. He loved his friends and the adventures and memories they shared. He loved the downtrodden and needy and served all of us.
God is saying "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Well done, my friend.....may you find peace in the arms of our Father.
Kim and I met John and Liz when we were cruising the Danube some years ago. John’s passion for photography and the local history of the places we visited, endeared him to those he met. He had a penchant for photographing ‘manhole covers’ and Kim and I sent him photos of streets with very interesting manhole covers, from our further travels around the world. Much hilarity ensued by all, as John tried to identify the city we were in! We’ll miss that - we always thought of this when we travelled. All our love Liz. Nicky and Kim.
I went to Wayne State University with John as an undergrad. John was upbeat, friendly, and kind. A good guy. I hadn't seen John for years, but I will miss him. I wish we were all together so we could raise a toast to John.
John was a classmate of mine at Lakeview High School. I always liked and respected him a great deal but decades passed before I got a second chance to know him better. He became a Facebook friend and his kind heart, sharp mind and infinite curiosity inspired me. I bumped into John and Liz at a protest rally and was so pleased to them. We featherbowled at the Cadieux Cafe with other Lakeview friends and I thought that I would have more time with him. It was a friendship I wanted to grow. I am devastated that I ran out of time but grateful for the time I had.
John was a warm, friendly guy, and I have fond memories of seeing both he and Liz three years ago at our high school reunion. I am so very sorry for your loss, Liz.
John was really one of the best persons. His postings of his and Liz’s vacations, his family outings and his pictures of nature, were always something to look forward to. John, I will always remember the last time I saw you. That was at the Cadieux Cafe and a night of feather bowling! The fun, the laughter, the Love that was shared, will never be forgotten. Liz, my sincerest condolences to you at this time.
I was blessed to have John as a dear friend for over 50 years. Through the years, we enjoyed numerous get-togethers, projects and vacations with him and Liz. If John was there, it was always a good time. He loved people and had a way of pulling us together. He was incredibly kind, thoughtful and intelligent; just a beautiful person.
Being amiable John touched the lives of many. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. For all those who were fortunate enough to know John, we are better individuals through his friendship. With love, Alexa and Greg
John was the nicest guy. I always enjoyed hearing about John and Liz’s trips and seeing his wonderful photographs. He will be missed by all.
John was a great guy... he was interesting, intelligent and fun... he always had a smile on his face... he was also a wonderful husband and we sell admired him for everything he was to Liz. He will be greatly missed♡
I didn't know John that well except for a few occasions at work when our paths crossed. John was a kindred spirit whom was a joy to be around. God Bless John and his family.
I worked with John for many years at DTE. He was one of the nicest and kindest people that I have known. I am so sorry for your loss.
I worked with John throughout his career with Detroit Edison. Initially we were in different parts of the Company doing related engineering jobs We always got along well, because John was a great humanitarian and instinctively knew how to forge good working relationships. We were each others supervisor at one time or another and tried to our best. John also had my back on occasion when we debated liberal life erhics in social media. John is sorely missed. He was a great man.
John was the purest soul I have ever met. He was kind and supportive of any endeavor a family member might attempt. He opened his home to countless family holiday dinners and always seemed to relish the role of host, camera in hand. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Thank you, John, for being such a reflection of that Divine love.
I grew up with John aka Jonny, he lived 2 houses from us, we would walk to school together everyday, He was a great guy then and now, Fly high John, Love Pat Berger aka Pat Pode
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Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
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