John O’Hagan – In Remembrance

-by Jay Murdock, a friend of John

John looked like a giant to us, sitting in our kayaks

We have lost a wonderful member of our kayaking and hiking community, and a dear friend to many of us. John suddenly passed away a few weeks back while hiking with his dog, doing what he loved to do. This unexpected event has left those who were privileged to know him in shock and sadness. Those of us who knew he was a man of faith, know he is now in a better place…but we still miss him.

Taking a break while Nordic skiing
With his wife Dorothy at Laguna Meadows

Off Pt Loma and a Saturday morning (John is 3rd from left)

As Lori Nickerson said, “We just saw him on his paddle board on a Wednesday morning paddle a few weeks ago.  We used to see him fairly often way out in the ocean… a speck in the distance, so tall with a distinctive stroke. ‘Oh, that must be John!’  We’d paddle towards each other and chat for a while before going our separate ways.  Such a fine and gentle soul”.

With Bob Jones on a hike…that playful smile is what we always observed
It was a joy to ski with John
Getting back on his kayak after a “nature break”, causing some of us to always get a good laugh…but he never capsized

John was only 62 when he set out to hike that day, not knowing what the future held, but he knew the One who held his future. He loved the woods in all seasons, and used to solo camp in the back country in this “secret spot” amongst the pines. But John also loved to be with others in all the sports he aggressively participated in. A great companion to have on any paddle, hike, pack trip, or Nordic ski, he was always strong and confident in what he was doing. On one Yosemite pack trip, John took the pack of a gal who could not hike the rest of the way to base camp, quickly hiked up the trail, and then returned to get his pack. We were all amazed at the strength of this man, and the humble and cheerful way which he conducted himself. But that was John, always giving to others.

Looking dapper in his kayak outfit on a Saturday paddle
On a pack trip up Mt San Jacinto with other kayakers (John on far right)
He had a smooth and natural Nordic style

John was a good and loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. His faith and the relationship with his Maker were the guiding forces in his life, and he understood that life is a precious gift with purpose and meaning. Of all the great attributes that could be said about him, the one that stands out as the pinnacle, is that John was simply, yet profoundly “One of His”.  James Dobson once said “At the end of our lives, what really matters is who we love, and who loves us”. As John moved through life, he left a large “wake” of people who knew his love, and loved him back. And what a tribute that is. Well done, John.

John and Dorothy