After a brief illness John W. Calkins, 83, departed us. And what a joyful 83 years it was. John had many accomplishments in his life. Born in Boston, John was educated at Tilton School, Boston University and Rutgers University. He had a brilliant career at The First National Bank of Boston for 36 years where for most of his career he was a Vice President of Corporate Relations. He served in the United States Army Reserves for 26 years where he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. John was a volunteer Board member on such organizations as Arts Boston, Bay State Games, the Hancock Shaker Village, The Freedom Trail, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and other charitable organizations. He was a connoisseur and collector of antiques, art works and photographs. John frequently went to New York or London for theater and was always knowledgeable of the latest movies. But it was not John's wonderful career and accomplishments that defined him. John did not leave any immediate family. Instead he left an army of friends whom he loved and who loved and adored him. He had friends all across this country and as a result people who did not know each other were connected to each other through John. He would spend his days, his weeks and his months being connected with all of his friends. If he didn't speak to you on a daily basis, then he spoke to you on a weekly basis or at least he contacted you on a monthly basis. He enjoyed writing letters to all his friends, and every Christmas we would all receive his magical Christmas cards. He was connected to his friends and his friends were connected to him. John was an avid supporter of the United States Army. He adored being part of the Army; he adored being supportive of all of our Armed Forces in whatever operations they encountered. One of his great joys in his later life was his trip to Normandy, France and the tour he took of the Beaches. The joy and happiness on his face to have been present on the Normandy Beaches on a beautiful sunny, spring day in France with a British tour guide gave him so much pleasure that he spoke about it for months after. John was an avid supporter of West Point. For years he not only supported West Point but he would travel there from home to watch all of their home football games. Go Army!!! When the Bank of Boston moved into their new location many years ago at 100 Federal Street it was John who was given the task of buying all of the artwork to decorate the floors that the Bank of Boston occupied in its new location. John became an anticipated customer in all of the Newbury Street art galleries as well as those in New York as he utilized his intelligence, integrity and ability to buy art that benefited not only the customers who came into the Bank of Boston but the Bank itself. All of John's many friends will tell you there was no one quite like him. He had an infectious laugh, a twinkle in his eye, a sunshine attitude towards life that made his friends always happy to see him and always anticipating seeing him the next time. He was, quite simply, a mensch and a complete gentleman. For all of us who knew and loved John his passing will make our lives a little less full. We will miss our lunches, our phone calls and our time together with John. He brought joy into all of our lives. In lieu of flowers please submit donations to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and to Hancock Shaker Village of Pittsfield, MA.
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Published in The Woburn Advocate from May 9 to May 16, 2011