John was the principal at The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK) when he recruited my parents to come teach at the school. So we (my parents, Dick and Leslie Bush, sister Carolyn, brothers David and Paul, and me) left Placerville, CA, for a 2-year adventure in Kinshasa, Zaire--an adventure grounded, and held by, our family’s friendship (that seems too weak a word) with the Genascis--John, Kay, Kerby, Andy and Joe. I was 13, so Kerby was my age mate. We “big kids” (David, Kerb, Carolyn and I) spent endless hours hanging out and playing cards; soccer on the lawn between our houses could include the littles (Andy, Paul and Joe). And John and Kay were just there for all of us. Two houses, four parents, and 7 kids--that felt like our part of campus!
It was clear that John was a leader--even to me, a 13-year-old. Everyone loved John, and he seemed able to take care of everyone. Strong, smart, warm, generous, always on the verge of laughter (although I have to admit I was never “in trouble”, so I don’t know what that was like…). He was creative and entrepreneurial--I’m still disappointed that John never got to the market point for his own homemade Pakistani-style samosas--something we’ve been trying to find since leaving Zaire. But he did get us kids organized to sell little packets of mistletoe one winter after coming back from Zaire. I don’t think we made a lot of money...
We continued to be part of each others’ families, driving over the mountains from Placerville to hang out in Sparks; getting together for Zaire reunions and family celebrations, sharing joys and hard knocks. It’s hard to imagine the world without you, John. Your warm smile, ready laughter, and crazy, often amazingly wonderful ideas. I’m so glad we got to be in this world together.
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