For John Devine, life was like a wild ride, meant to be full of experiences and memories.
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming…. WOW … What a ride!”
Those are the words on the fridge magnet that John kept in the midst of photos of his children, Rachel (28) and James (17), their art work and the occasional postcard from someone who’d been travelling.
And on Saturday, Aug. 28, as he sat on his chair on the front porch of his long-time Barrie home listening to the sounds of the nature in the early morning emanating from an environmental-protection area behind an elementary school, he passed into the next realm.
He was 65.
John came to Canada from Glasgow, with his parents James and Molly, and his two brothers, Jim and his late brother Garry. They settled in Burlington and shortly after, Allison arrived rounding out the Devine clan. Other Devine cousins also came to Canada and added to the quality of life in Canada but helping maintain the connection with their Scottish culture.
John settled in Barrie when he got a job with the Barrie Banner. He subsequently was hired on as the first reporter for the Barrie Banner-Advance, which became the Advance, and he worked up through the ranks of the organization into senior news management. He enjoyed mentoring new reporters and worked diligently to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted.
In everything, he kept adventure in mind. Whether it was hitch-hiking across Canada when he was fresh out of high school or spending a few months with a backpack on a trip through Europe with a friend, John – like any writer – knew experience was enriching: It made you a better writer and helped you understand people. One birthday, he explored the French Quarter in New Orleans until dawn. Despite being able to find his way almost anywhere in the world – London, Paris, Rome, New York City -- he managed to get lost in Ottawa!
Even when he settled down to have a family with his friend, Laurie Watt, John could be counted on to make the most of the moment. After attending a wedding in Montreal, John suggested they drive their new Mustang to the Maritimes. They laughed at Signal Hill, when the magnet couldn’t pull the5L Mustang even partway up a hill. They indulged in lobsters. They explored the picturesque coast of Nova Scotia and on their way back to Ontario, left a three-cylinder Sprint – whose driver dared to challenge the car with Ontario plates and a rubber lobster hanging from the rear-view mirror – in the dust.
John loved music and on the trip down east, he enjoyed Rod Stewart’s Rhythm of My Heart, a chart-topper that year. He loved the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and most of all, Bruce Springsteen. He’d travel almost anywhere to hear Bruce, the American poet-songwriter who talked of love, of enjoying life and of exploring the joys in each day.
He skidded in broadside after an incredible ride with us. Asa Springsteen song tells us, he knows we’re trailing behind him a bit, but he’ll wait for us.
We said we’d walk together
Baby come what may
That come the twilight
Should we lose our way
If as we’re walking a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me.
We’ll see you again, dear friend.
In lieu of flowers, the family have requested donations to an education fund for John's son James.
Please click here to access the Trust Fund details.