John R., of the Highlands, is one of those people who goes through life deriving joy from the simplest of opportunities. Born and raised in Woonsocket, R.I., he was the younger of 2 brothers in a family where his mother stayed home to take care of her boys while his father worked as a machinist in a factory. After high school, John found a job in a textile mill and held that position until World War II. He joined the Army and was trained in the use of anti-aircraft weapons in which he operated the range-finding apparatus. John was then sent to North Africa where his outfit fought against Rommel’s Afrika Corps. Although his duties were not without peril, he wanted to assume a new challenge, and transferred to the paratroopers. John later admitted that the ground training was scarier than jumping out of a plane. Nonetheless, in 1944, his unit parachuted into southern France where they faced stiff German opposition. Near the end of the war, John took part in the liberation of women prisoners at a concentration camp in Belgium.
With the end of hostilities, he returned to his textile job at home, but at the urging of his brother, who was attending George Washington Univ., John moved to Washington, D.C. in search of better employment. He found a position with Capital Transit, first as a streetcar motorman, and later as a bus driver. John very much enjoyed his work, especially after he became a combination of driver and sightseeing guide showing thousands of tourists the majestic monuments and buildings of Washington. Meanwhile, he had married a girl from back home, Thelma, and settled down to raise their 2 children. In his leisure time, John enjoyed fishing and camping with his family in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After his wife passed away, he still maintained a cheerful and positive outlook on life and all its possibilities.In addition, his daughter, Laurie, has been a wonderful source of loving support and encouragement for him in terms of participation within the community. Laurie holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology and directs clinical trials in the field of dementia at the National Institute on Aging which is part of NIH.
Meanwhile, here at Kensington Park, John has made a considerable number of friends with whom he shares a wide range of activities, such as the many excursions that KP organizes for lunch outings and trips downtown. In addition, he dearly loves the companionship of his dogs, Little Boy and Shadow. To sum it up, John is as nice a person as you could ever hope to meet and clearly symbolizes why Kensington Park is so special in the hearts of residents and visitors alike.