John Richard Townsend, “SuwanneeJ” died Wednesday August 4th in Gainesville, FL of a major cardiac event unrelated to COVID19. John was born September 2, 1948, in Jacksonville, FL. John was the only son of William T. Townsend and Erma Richardson Townsend. Both preceded him in death. He leaves behind many cousins from the Richardson, Townsend and Thomas families and friends who loved him dearly. His sudden passing leaves them with a very sad heart.
John was a graduate of Terry Parker High School, Stetson University, and Louisville University. During and after college, he worked at Camp Pinnacle, Henderson NC for the Kussoff family for many years. He served in the US Army, Military Intelligence, during the Vietnam War, from 1970 to 1973. During this time, John earned his master’s in education. John was an elementary teacher for his career in Lake County. In retirement he dutifully attended to his father and stepmother during their declining years. He moved to the family home on the Suwannee River after their passing, where he lived until his death.
John was an avid traveler, with numerous trips including Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, Latin American. He regaled family and friends with tales of his travels. Along the way, he accumulated numerous friends from his travels. He was a beloved cousin to many family members and a renowned storyteller that loved a good joke immensely. John was a great cook and enjoyed a variety of culinary styles. John loved his music; his tastes were eclectic, and he attended many folk music festivals. John was an avid outdoorsman and led his cousins and friends on canoe trips. He hiked the Appalachian and the Pacific Rim trails. John was a voracious reader and student of history and politics. A discussion of politics, travel, history, family relations and outdoor adventures were constant themes. “What’ya think about…? was ever-present in a conversation with John. During his adult years he grew to appreciate and participate in the Humanist Society which was compatible with his moral view of the world and the responsibilities of each person. Happy Hour, with a preferred libation, was a constant in John enjoyment of each day. He looked forward to the annual Suwannee Valley Townsend reunion and was a key organizer, provider of a favorite spinach casserole for the reunion lunch and participant in the evening homemade ice cream and boiled peanut circle gathering.
In lieu of flowers, please make Memorial gifts for John’s incredible life to: Americans United: 1310 L Street, Suite 200, Washington DC 20005, www.au.org; National Public Radio: P.O. Box 791490,Baltimore, MD 21279-1490 or [email protected] ; WUFT: https://www.npr.org/donations/support; Southern Poverty Law Center: 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104, www.splc.org; or the American Civil Liberties Union: 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York NY 10004 https://www.aclu.org/ A Celebration of Life service will be held on October 16th at the open-air Shelter at Fanning Springs State Park at 2PM. A reception to follow. To indicate your plans to attend please reply to this email: [email protected] re: JRT’s Service. Cremation arranged by Forest Meadows Funeral Home, Gainesville.