John Wiseman passed away peacefully and unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Chatham on January 16, 2018.
To the world, John was a kind man, but to his wife and children, he was the whole world: an unwavering pillar of love, wisdom, fun, compassion and laughter. Their beloved patriarch, champion and hero. The ways he loved them and was loved could fill volumes.
John was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland on August 14, 1943 to parents John and Emma (nee Darrigan). He was the ninth child in a big Catholic family of thirteen children. He had many fond memories of his childhood: the family homesteads on Carmen Avenue, Howley Road and Victoria Street in Mount Bernard, family dinners with bread freshly baked by his mother every day, conspiring with his brothers to tease their sisters and trick them into handing over their baking, playing endless hours of hockey and baseball. John (also known as “Dickie” in his youth) was an accomplished athlete who loved sports, especially hockey, curling, darts and baseball. John and his brother Joe were a fearsome duo on many teams, competing throughout Newfoundland, even catching the attention of Boston Bruins scouts. John rose to any athletic challenge, once roller-skating for over forty-one consecutive hours to break a provincial and national marathon record, even receiving special permission from the parish priest to miss Sunday Mass so he could be the last man skating. John was fun-loving and had a mischievous streak but his quick wit usually kept him from getting into too much trouble.
John moved to Windsor, Ontario in 1968 to attend university. There, he met the love of his life, Judy. They were in love and were best friends until the very end. They were opposites in many ways but agreed on what was most important to them: building a strong and loving family together. Soon, they had their own “Three Wise Men”: Stephen, Stephanie and Hollie. The consummate family man, John chose a career path in order to provide for his family. Together, John and Judy created a loving home and beautiful life for their children, instilling in them a deep love of family above all else. John cherished his kids, and never tired of spending time with them. He made time for his children even when he had to do shift work, taking them for special lunch dates in his truck. His children will forever treasure their memories of building forts, inventing games, swimming, piggyback rides, dancing, puppet shows, slideshows and family trips. The family photographer, John provided a priceless record of many of these beautiful childhood memories. He shared his love of music with his children also, and the family soundtrack over the years included many of his favourites: Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Abba, Boney M, and The Traveling Wilburys to name just a few.
Throughout their lives, John taught his children by example how to be a good person and friend. Along with Judy, he often acted as a surrogate parent to kids who needed some extra love. When his kids were growing up, the doors to the Wiseman house (“the cave” as the basement hang-out space was known) and family cottage were always open to kids. John never talked down to his kids or their friends, but instead treated them with respect, asking questions and truly listening to what they had to say. John also had an incredible bedside manner, and was a trusted confidante for many people whenever they had a problem. He was a rock and always knew the exact words to say to help loved ones through times of sorrow or trouble. John always greeted those he loved with a hug and a kiss, and he let them know they were loved through his words and actions. He was a generous soul who gave himself freely to his family and friends, and also quietly donated to those less fortunate in his community each year.
John was in his glory when the entire family gathered together, especially for family events, holidays and at the cottage in Rondeau. He said that the weddings of his children were among the favourite days of his life, and he loved his daughter-in-law Jenn, and his sons-in-law Stephan and Scott beyond words. He was especially grateful to Chris and Ruth Ball for their generosity in hosting two weddings and a wedding shower for his kids. John was Tapa to his grandkids, and had boundless energy, love and support for each and every one. He called them his “half-dozen”, his six grandchildren: Madeleine, Hannah, Willow, Sam, Frances and Sabine. He loved his kids and grandkids to pieces and was there to celebrate every milestone.
Well-known as a masterful, if long-winded, raconteur, John’s stories and jokes were loved far and wide. Legendary stories include the glory of the roller skating marathon, the great smudge pot caper and his mission to “borrow” exams to ensure the academic success of the entire student body at Regina High School. When shenanigans occurred, John was the shepherd but never the sheep. Even in his seventy-fifth year, he continued to be a ring-leader in late night antics fireside at Rondeau.
John enjoyed sharing his heritage, from jiggs dinners to traditional music, and always kept Newfoundland in heart, passing this love to his kids and grandkids. Some of his favourite memories were of family trips in Newfoundland, especially the historic Wiseman Descendants Reunion of 2008 in Corner Brook, attended by 94 family members. He was as proud as a peacock that day and loved every single minute. He couldn’t wait for the entire family to gather again in Corner Brook for a ten-year reunion in August 2018.
John is incredibly missed and will be forever in the hearts of his loving partner of nearly 47 years, Judy (nee Preston) and their children: Stephen (Jenn), Stephanie (Stephan Burchi) and Hollie (Scott Sparling), and their bonus “fourth child”, John’s nephew, Paul Wiseman (Brenda). He will be forever loved by his grandchildren: Madeleine, Hannah, Willow, Sam, Frances and Sabine.
John is predeceased by his late parents, John and Emma Wiseman, his parents-in-law, Frank and Madeleine Preston; his brothers Sam, Gerald, Gene and Joe; his sister Anne (Birmingham); his brother-in-law Al Cowan; his sister-in-law Dennie Wiseman; his brothers-in-law Glenn Van Horne, George Parker, Bob Conway, Bob Hyatt; his niece, Melissa Conway, and his nephew Jim Birmingham.
John will be lovingly remembered by his siblings Frances (Bill Prowse), Marie (Tom Collier), Carmel Cowan, Madonna (Ken King), Mike, Louise (Ron Birmingham), and Gerard (Kathy); sisters-in-law Hope Wiseman, Marie Wiseman, Olga Wiseman, Nita Van Horne, Pat Parker, Janice Conway and Fran Hyatt. He will also be remembered with great fondness by more nieces and nephews that can be named here, each of whom held a unique and special place in his heart. He will be missed by his dear friends Bert and Marilyn Smart, Leo Hogan, Linda Hunter and Bud Adlam, and Gabriel Burchi. He will also be fondly remembered by his friends and neighbours on Kerr Avenue and in Rondeau Park.
To honour John’s wishes, no formal funeral service will be held. A Celebration of Life is being planned for March 2018 in Chatham. A Mass of Remembrance will take place in Corner Brook in August 2018. For for those wishing to make a donation in John’s name, please consider Chatham Outreach for Hunger, the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre, or a charity of your choice.
We know that he will be with us in spirit whenever we are together.