Remembering John Donn – TJ Zeiler
On December 29, 2017 long time Songmaker and friend, John Donn, went to be with God and his lovely Beth. His family has stated that there has not been nor will there be a public service of any kind per John’s wishes. Certainly, many of us will celebrate his life and the impact he had on his fellow Songmakers in upcoming Hoots and Song Circles.
Alan Ferentz has set up a Jan 28 Sunday 1:30-4:30pm: John Donn celebration of life hoot at the E.P. Foster Library in downtown Ventura. (See calendar for details.)
Also, the upcoming CAMARILLO HOOT will be a celebration of John’s life. For so many of us this is sad news regarding his passing and yet I am happy too since it is my belief that John is back with Beth, the love of his life. A truly lovely man with a heart of gold & he’ll be remembered fondly. I always have and will always think of John whenever I hear a Kris Kristofferson song or reminisce about the Songmakers who have meant so much to me over the years.
Remembering John Donn – Alan Ferentz
This is a very difficult task to write about one of my dearest friends John Donn.
I met John in a guitar class almost twenty years ago. I was playing my 1967 Gibson.
John noticed my guitar and a friendship was instant. John introduced me to Songmakers.
On my first trip to Kernville my travel guitar developed a problem and John was quick to loan me his spare for the weekend. I learned a valuable lesson to always travel with a spare.
Like most Songmakers guitar acquisition was soon in full force. I bought a new Gibson and John was as excited as I was. He called me the day it was to be delivered. We were on the phone when the UPS truck pulled up. As he was putting the phone down I heard him say, “Beth, I am headed to Alan’s.” He was there just as I was unpacking it. His warm smile appeared as he was playing the new acquisition.
John was very knowledgeable about musical instruments and help fuel my guitar acquisition. My bank account may be smaller, but I am a far richer man because of John’s friendship. John often did repairs on Songmakers’ instruments, he enjoyed the work and seldom charged.
John taught me many valuable life lessons. One was always set the bar for happiness low. I believe this was evident in John as he almost always expressed a warm smile.
John and Beth (before her passing) were fixtures at Songmaker gatherings. Kenny Grove weekends were among his favorites.
John and Beth were regulars at Cafe Voltaire, Zoey’s, The Fireside, The Camarillo Cafe, and any place else music was being played. John and Bob Kroll built the Fireside concert series to what it is today. John helped me to launch a ukulele gathering at Java Joe’s and was a regular attendee. The ukulele group now meets twice a month and has grown to 270 members with 50 gathering to sing and play.
It is often said about folks, but for John it is a fact, I don’t believe John ever met a stranger. John was a highly intelligent man, he loved reading and doing research on just about anything. One of our last trips together was to Music in the Mountains. During the car trip we discussed many items from music to politics. Although we sometimes had different views we always had great discussions. On that trip not only did we have a great time playing music, but we solved many of the world’s problems. Too bad the world did not listen.
Songmakers has been an exciting venture for me. I can’t imagine life without all my Songmaker family and I owe it all to John. I will miss him, but I know he is here in spirit and song. As the title of the song by Jimmy Adams, “You may be Gone, but not Forgotten”.