John Wesley Luttrull was born January 17, 1931, to Ammon and Ruth Luttrull.
John was the second of three sons born in Evansville, Indiana, preceded by Paul and followed by James. Ammon was an evangelical preacher, recently returned with Ruth as missionaries from Guam, where John's older sisters Esther and Kathryn were born. Ammon was a "big picture" man, trained from youth for the ministry. Ruth was precocious, graduating the University of Iowa at sixteen. Marrying Ammon at 19, she taught herself Greek, so she could tutor him. They were " a good combination". For 35 years Ammon produced the "Old Time Religion" radio show. He often had his children sing hymns on the show, which before school each morning at 6:30am. John reported that he joined them infrequently due his grumbling about the early hour. To the great surprise of those who met John later, he was, as a child, a "picky" eater. Some of his fondest memories came from the family's "beautiful" 300-acre farm. It was there he first learned a life long passion, hunting.
About that time John said the family had "plenty to eat - often only onions - but no money". Shoes were intermittent, clothes rough (he was self conscious about this) and simple needs unmet; but happiness abounded. Wartime gas rationing forced the family to move into town when he began 7th grade. When he was 12 he got his first pair of glasses and was "thrilled" to see leaves on trees clearly for the first time.
In school John excelled in academics and sports, voted "May King" of the school sports festival. He swam, played football and basketball, holding Evanville's Bosse High freshman record for the high jump (5' 11") for many pre-Fosbery decades. His dream was to become a pilot, but his glasses prevented it. When his sister Esther, a nursing student at Yale, came home with the medical student she was dating John took serious interest in medicine.
John fell in love with Nancy Jane Stires over a dogfish dissection at Asbury College, Kentucky. After his first year of medical school at Indiana University, he and Nancy were married for the first of 57 years. Since she was in nursing school at Case Western Reserve they lived apart the first year of their marriage ("the opposite of what goes on these days", John often pointed out). First son Jeffrey was born and a year later, in 1957, John began his residency at Riverside County Hospital, "before smog". At first Nancy didn't like California, crying on arrival. But after developing a taste for good weather and Mexican food, they found they could not return to the Midwest. John was drafted into the Army during his Ob/Gyn residency training in Riverside and went on to serve at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio (where Jane, then David and Daniel were born), then Fort Monroe, Virginia. When he was transferred to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, he and Nancy decided to go camping: 6 weeks and 8,000 miles in a Chevy station wagon, pulling a small trailer, with 4 children under 6 years old.
Still married and alive they spent three years in Alaska, one of the family's most cherished times. There they enjoyed The Great Earthquake, fresh game, and high temperature that did not rise above 60 degrees below zero for 30 days straight. Good times. After a year at Fort Ord, John left the Army. Following a brief sojourn in Nampa, Idaho, he brought the family to Ventura, where they remained. There he practiced first with Drs. Sherrill and Seifert; then alone; and then the Buenaventura Clinic with Dr. Roy Schneider and John Keats. The chronology of John's life only touches on the things that, for him, mattered most. Foremost was his wife Nancy, who he loved and adored. As a close observer of this marriage for most of its 57 years, a better and more loving husband I cannot imagine, nor a more harmonious marriage.
After Nancy's passing in 2010, John married Donna Mason, who brought further blessing and love, companionship, and joy to his final years. Although John began to make the world unsafe for squirrels as a young boy, his love of hunting did not reach full-pitch until his first deer hunt, undertaken while stationed in Texas. John loved hunting and guns. His beloved Uncle Paul, a master of these arts who lived in Fullerton, was an early draw on John to California. John could understand why "city folk" preferred not have a personal relationship with their dinner, but he thought their position ethically weak. Ultimately, Nancy displayed her culinary skills with every sort of fish, antlered creature, boar and bear, excelling in organic free-range Alaskan Caribou.
The boy who did not like singing hymns on morning radio came to know and love Jesus at a young age. Transformation of his imperfect self by the example of Jesus was John's greatest desire. Patience. Humility. Kindness. Gentleness. Generosity. This was Jesus alive in John.
"Love God with all of your heart, mind and spirit; and love your neighbor as yourself."
He spoke it with his life; it is why we loved him, and why he will be missed until we see him again. Peacefully, May 11, 2014.
In recent years John found great joy and many friends working in the Salvation Army health clinic; as a Deacon and on the missions committee at Community Presbyterian Church; with Donna in Family to Family community services; and as a member of the Ventura Kiwanis. Donations to any of these in his name would be gratefully accepted. A memorial service for John W. Luttrull, MD, will be held at Community Presbyterian Church, Ventura, California, Sunday, June 8th, at 4pm. Reception to follow.