John Velton

image of John Velton

John Velton

John was born September 25th, 1928 to Edith and John Sr. in Tacoma, Washington. He spent his boyhood in Ogden Utah, where he loved hiking and exploring in the outdoors. When John was 6 years old, his brother, William was born.

During his high school years, he distinguished himself by placing first in state-wide meets in both Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. He began studying at the University of Chicago in September 1946. It was here that he met his future wife, Pauline. She was studying nursing at the University of Wisconsin, but in January-March 1949, she was on a 3-month course studying obstetrics at ‘Chicago Lying-in’. They met by chance at an Alpha Delta Phi fraternity dance, and both always said that they had felt a strong affinity for each other from the moment they met.

John and Pauline were engaged in September 1949, and married July 8, 1950.

John had always been drawn to the west coast, and Pauline also thought it might be fun to go there, so they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.

John completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in January 1953, with a major in Political Science. In July 1952, their daughter Leslie was born. In 1954, John took a position as Administrative Assistant for the city of Stockton, where their daughter, Cara was born. In 1956, he accepted a position as Assistant City Manager of Vallejo, California. Six years later, John received the Young Man of the Year Award for his accomplishments.

In 1959, while living in Vallejo, he joined the Sierra Club, and became their Conservation Chairman. He introduced his family to camping, and instilled in his daughters a love for wilderness and the natural world. A family backpacking trip to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite was a long remembered cherished experience. He counted having climbed to the peak of Mt. Hoffman in Yosemite as a notable accomplishment.

John found himself increasingly interested in the theory and practice of political science. He resigned as Assistant City Manager in 1961 to pursue the completion of his Master’s Thesis. In 1962-63 he taught American Government and American History at San Joaquin Junior College. John’s father’s sudden death in 1964 affected him profoundly, leading him to question his life path and embark on a new course of study. The family moved to San Francisco, and John began working toward a Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from San Francisco State University, graduating in 1968.

He then began work for the state of California, as a Rehabilitation Supervisor. Over the years his work included vocational counseling for prisoners at San Quentin, and later for blind people. He felt that his greatest achievement by far was his work with the Center for Independent Living (CIL), which developed a computer training program for quadriplegics, many of whom became highly successful computer programmers, (whereas their talents might otherwise have been lost to the world, and their lives severely constrained).

His lifelong quest for truth, beauty, and spiritual growth led him to join the Unitarian Church in San Francisco in 1963, and, for a time, to study the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, and Christian Science. He became a committed Presbyterian (returning to the religion of his youth) around 2005.

In 2005, John and Pauline relocated to Washington to be closer to their eldest daughter, Leslie, and their grandsons. Their daughter, Cara had married and moved to England in 1995. They joined and became very involved with the Bellevue Presbyterian church. John was fulfilled by his work as a prayer minister, and the Bible study group he belonged to.

He was a kind and loving father, and his family enjoyed many happy times together, whether exploring San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon, or traveling across the country on a road trip. John & family had a particularly memorable camping trip with the Sierra Club in 1970, to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, led by a Navajo guide.

John passed away peacefully on December 13, 2022. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Pauline, their two daughters, Leslie and Cara, and two grandsons, Jordan and Matthew.

The funeral service will be held at the Bellevue Presbyterian church on December 29th 2022, at 1pm.


2 Responses to “John Velton”

  • Tom and Regan Hemphill says:

    Dear Pauline,
    Tom and I are so very sorry to hear of John’s passing. I always liked John, ever since going to your Park Merced home in high school to play music with Cara, and to have a lovely meal with your family afterwards. I remember John learning how to cook with a wok and presenting a delicious meal with his new-found knowledge – he seemed to me a man curious about all life had to offer, from Chinese cooking to chess, nature and politics and beyond. We will miss the opportunity to visit with him again. But we intend, next time we are in the area, to visit you, dear Pauline.
    Much love,

  • Gail Lewis says:

    I have fond memories of John. He had a warm smile and hug. Always listened with care and respect. He will not be forgotten.

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