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1935 John 2023

John Hall

April 17, 1935 — February 5, 2023

Hall, John Wayne

John Wayne Hall of Ottawa, Ontario, died on February 5, 2023, at the age of 87 after a long transition from the fiercely independent spirit so many of us knew. He is survived by his wife Sydney (Zink); kids Susan and John (partner Michele); siblings Allen, Ellen, Gail, Meryl and Rose; and granddaughter Sasha. He is also Uncle Wayne to a great posse of nieces and nephews (including Shawn, who somewhere inside himself harbours his doppelgänger).

“John Wayne” was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on April 17, 1935, to Martha (Allen) and John Charles Hall. While not named after the Western movie star, he did channel his performative moxie. He grew up in “the big house” on Main Street, but also on the Perry Road in nearby Carleton (where three of five siblings live today). He taught swimming at Lake Milo and Camp Wapomeo, and thrived on high school swim, basketball and rugby teams, before heading off on worldly adventures.

Early highlights include studying and swimming at Acadia U, shifts at a Sault steel plant with hockey’s Esposito brothers, and a still-mysterious stint in the navy. He married Sydney as he settled into his first career, with Scott Paper, that took the young family to Sydney, Brantford, Sudbury, Vancouver—and around the world marketing grade A Canadian toilet paper. That led into 25 years with the federal public service, mostly in Ottawa and Halifax, but with time as a senior diplomat in London (UK) promoting Canadian forest products while hobnobbing with ministers, industrialists and royalty.

John Wayne had two modes in this life: on and off. Long into retirement, he continued to jog every day, play tennis with all comers, battle mottled lawns, and find countless other ways to honour his personal credo: gotta keep moving. All of this punctuated by precious long snoozes amid newspapers and crumbs from a peanut butter sandwich. Well into his 60s, he was still entering road races in the under-40 class (fooling some?). But finally, just shy of 80, while puttering in the yard one day, he sat down on the front step exhausted—and never walked solo again.

There was no identified medical event(s). Just the ratcheting progress of the neurodegenerative condition whose reality he fought like a bull. This decade of fading wit and mobility was surely hard for the man who yearned to be “39 going on 40” forever. Yet, quietly, he was also forming an enriching new circle of friends among staff at the Granite Ridge Care Community near Ottawa. This became clearer to his family in his last days, as PSWs, nurses and cleaners shared their stories freely.  Where we’d seen mostly loss, he and they had been building something all-new. To the wonderful Granite team (too many to name without risking omission): thank you for being there, and for sharing with us too.

Family and friends: we will share stories, but not at a funeral service that he would never have wanted. Instead, we’ll find a way a little later, probably out east, and we’ll let you know. In the meantime, please no flowers (seriously, it’s John Wayne). But if you feel driven, then we recommend donations in his name to Right to Play Canada, which helps kids of all backgrounds keep moving. Last words for now to the man himself, from across the years: “Here I am, ladies and gentlemen!….Everything copacetic?…It’s been a pleasure, boys and girls, but it’s time to vamboose [sic].”

To send flowers to the family in memory of John Hall, please visit our flower store.

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