John McLaughlin

John Wilson McLaughlin

1948 - 2014

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Obituary of John Wilson McLaughlin

McLaughlin, John Wilson age 66, of Mpls, died Nov. 30 after a courageous battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). John's unflinchingly positive spirit and zest for life, despite the terrible toll the disease took, spoke volumes about him and made him an inspiration to his loved ones and caregivers. The son of the late Charles H. and Mary (Smilanich) McLaughlin, he was born in and lived most of his life in Mpls. He attended University High School and graduated from the University of MN. He spent one year on a football scholarship at the University of Hawaii, which can be blamed for his Hawaiian shirts. His amusing supply of T-shirts - which advertised anything from a favorite greasy spoon to Harvard - also testified to his quirky and eclectic tastes. John was a sports writer for KSTP. He then worked for Hennepin County for more than 30 years managing Federal and State life skills, employment, and training programs that provided life-changing employment assistance to thousands of low-income residents. He was also known for his musical talents and interests (sparked by his youthful, passionate, but unrequited love for Marianne Faithful). His guitar and banjo and his love of rock and roll, folk, country and blues was central to his persona. Hardly a night passed in the early '70s without John singing and strumming the guitar, with friends gathered around him in an apartment. He wrote songs and sang at his friends' weddings and for benefits, and went on to perform with the Cedar Lake 7 of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, entertaining at nursing homes and other venues. He was a smart, widely-read, talented and caring person who was also a "regular guy." Simple pleasures made him beam: Convening his friends in his beloved New Mexico where he spent several winters; devouring everything fried on a stick at the State Fair; chocolate milk shakes, chocolate chip cookies and bacon cheeseburgers; freewheeling road trips; camping "up north" with the required stop at Toby's for donuts and the silliness with the Adult Coloring Club; winter trips to Mexico with wife Barb and more. John was more likely to be playful or teasing than emotive, but when he needed to, he proved how big his heart was. He loved volunteering at the Arboretum. He is survived by his son Colin (Son Myoung Ju), sister Deborah (McLaughlin) Walsh, niece Kathleen Krider, nephews Nathan and Daniel Krider, great nieces and nephews, former wife and friend Barbara Nepper and devoted friends. A memorial service will be held at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 South Cedar Lake Rd., Mpls, Friday, Dec. 12 at 5:30 pm. A reception will follow. Flowers can be received at the church 10:30 am -2:30 pm on Thursday. Donations in his memory are preferred to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.