This cowboy aficionado hails from Gilbert, Arizona. His family is Irish, but John was born in May of 1946 in Jasper County, Indiana. You’ll have to look up his boyhood hometown on the map because you probably have not ever heard of it…Rensselaer, Indiana. Trust me; it’s on the map…I looked.
His birth father was an outlaw and John didn’t share the details. However, his stepfather is the person who raised him, and that’s whom he refers to as his “dad.” His mom, Christina, married Ronnie when John was about five, and he was his dad from that time on.
John has two sisters, Bonnie and Linda, and three brothers, David, Kenny and Jimmy. Having a big family isn’t foreign to John; growing up, he was the oldest among 60 grandchildren. Can you imagine those family reunions? What fun!
In 2020, John will have been married to his wife, Pat, for 50 years. They met on a blind date. It was at a country western bar in Indiana where they were set up by a childhood friend. There was dancing involved. She was a “city girl” and he was a “country boy.”
When they got married, Pat had three children from her first marriage and they had one child together. Now, all these many years later, they have twelve grandchildren and 9 great grand children. He also has three cats who claim him: Sebastian, Megan and Simone.
Indiana was their home, but Arizona was their “adopted” home after health issues and job opportunities brought them to Phoenix. John worked in the grocery business. Once, when he was working at a Circle K, John was robbed by 10 men. That was the day he decided to pursue another line of work. He actually became a security officer. It was a highly stressful job, but it was an avenue which introduced him to high profile folks such as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Senator Dennis DeConcini and Senator John McCain. He had a security detail at the Wrigley Mansion where he met Alice Cooper and the band, Nine Inch Nails.
The work also introduced him to the cowboy scene where he met many famous cowboys, such as his favorite, Gene Autry. He also came to know the son and daughter of another favorite, Roy Rogers. He was in Arizona for about 6 months when he met one of his best friends, Rodd Wolff, a movie stuntman. They became friends for life.
At one time, John owned a salon close to where they lived. They catered to many celebrities. He met Peter Graves, Marie Osmond, and many others. It was during this time that Rodd introduced John to a cowboy festival in Scottsdale. There, he met local celebrities, Wallace and Ladmo, and even ended up appearing on their tv show!
Because John became so connected to celebrities and famous cowboys, a hobby just kind of happened…he became a collector of cowboy memorabilia. Pat had been collecting movie star clippings for clients for years, so collecting was something fun they could do together. At one time, John had over 8,000 items he took to schools, libraries, and roadshows.
So John has many “claims to fame” and he has the scrapbooks to prove it. He was on the front page of the “Grit” newspaper in 1982. He came in third in a guitar contest at the Granada Hotel in Phoenix in 1983. He started the “Arizona Cowboys Club” in 2002 — Buck Taylor from Gunsmoke was a member. He’s written and published a couple books and has one on the way. He also writes and recites poetry…a man of many talents, for sure!
When spending time with John and Pat, you’ll find that you feel like you’ve known them forever. They are easy to talk to and their home has many conversation pieces: scrapbooks, collectibles, photos, etc. You can tell that John enjoys reminiscing about the “old days.”