John passed away in the early morning hours of October 11, 2022 succumbing to stage 4 colon cancer. John was diagnosed with stage 3C colon cancer in November of 2018. He leaves behind his wife, Melanie, his two children, Natalie Johnson and Zach Zeeman, two grandsons, Matthew and Steven Johnson, and his brother Robert Zeeman.
John was born in Montreal, Canada, August 11, 1959. His family, mom, dad, and brother Robert, emigrated to the United States when he was 3 years old. John did not get his US Citizenship until after he graduated college. John's love of travel most likely started when he was very young, as his family traveled to Germany to visit his mom's family. They also loved vacations to Hawaii. Most likely the start of the Hawaiian shirt craze.
As a child, John learned to play chess and the accordion. His love of playing chess stuck, not so much the accordion.
In high school he loved water skiing, learning to snow ski and playing tennis and water polo. He also met Melanie and loved her, too! John and Melanie were great friends who spent hours on the phone and playing tennis, where he was such a ball hog, Melanie was annoyed. They eloped to Las Vegas when they were 18, so she wasn't that annoyed.
John continued his pursuit of his bachelor's degree in accounting as they welcomed daughter Natalie into the family in 1979. John graduated with honors and was recruited to work for one of the "Big 8" accounting firms. He passed the CPA Exam in one sitting and left the Big 8 and went to work in the private sector. He loved working at Chiat Day, but the commute to Venice Beach in the 80's was too long and he resigned. He began as a Accounting Manager and worked his way up to being the CFO of American Fish and Seafood.
In 1985, John and Melanie welcomed son Zachary. With two children, John began his coaching career. He coached soccer, both boys and girls, as well as softball. He also began his soccer referring career, which he continued due to his love of kids and sports. He loved using his position as a ref to teach kids about the game. His last coaching assignment was a boys under 19 team that ended up winning the Commissioner's Cup. He was beyond excited.
The family travel adventures started early with trips to Hawaii, Yellowstone, and many skiing trips to different resorts before Zach was born. After Zach was born family trips to Montreal, a Dude Ranch, Yellowstone, ski trips, and a crazy "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium" European Vacation that spanned 5 countries in 16 days and Euro rail passes. The wrong train and a decision to go rogue hiking down the Matterhorn gave the family great stories to share. Many more European vacations followed including family visits in Germany and the Netherlands. Great adventures were had in Africa, South America, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, China, Scandinavia, Russia, Costa Rica, and Bora Bora.
John loved going to concerts and made sure Natalie and Zach were music lovers as well. Zach took it to heart and he and John became concert buddies creating lots more opportunities for crazy adventures like losing his glasses in a mosh pit.
After his mom's passing in 2001, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. He quit his six figure salary job and went back to school to earn his teaching credential. He started his first teaching job at a Jr. High and then moved on to high school, which he loved! He got a job at Cabrillo High School and taught, accounting, math, and logistics. He was never happier! It was very painful to have to say good-bye to his absolute love of teaching when his cancer made it impossible to do the job. He was forced to retire during the 2020-2021 school year.
After he recovered from cancer surgery and completed his first round of chemotherapy, the family took a wonderful cruise to Alaska. In the summer of 2021, there was an amazing adventure island hopping in Hawaii with lots of family. Another trip to Hawaii in the spring of 2022 with lots of snorkeling. John amazingly made his final adventure, a family reunion road trip to Idaho and Colorado just last month. He was the most adventurous and fun loving man, who loved his family more than anything else in the world.