John Thomas Rafferty
1953 - 2019
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July 3, 1953–June 30, 2019

If you're reading this, John Rafferty is as dead as a doornail. Cancer didn't get him, it died with him.

John had big plans to write his own obituary, but never got past those first two lines. He was too busy spending his days with his beloved partner Pam, catching up on Y&R and Game of Thrones, tending to his plants, and keeping up with politics and the Jays.

He spoke of the Big Lebowski and Clint Eastwood characters as inspiration for a life well-lived. He planned to curate an instructional guide of quotes and tenets, but ultimately decided on one: “just relax.”

His political highs (landslide win!) and lows (hitting the bear!) have been well-documented in the wake of his death, but for those who loved him, his public life was just a small part of who he was.

He was a funny, intelligent, cheeky guy. He was tall with a head of controversial hair. He cared about the little guy. He worked to make change. He persevered. He planted butterfly gardens. He travelled the world. He loved dogs. He had wonderful taste in theatre and appalling taste in movies. He loved classical music and was a master of dad jokes. He recommended naps, although, he seldom took them himself. An accomplished, well-travelled man with a lifetime of great experiences, John remained humble. He valued other people's stories, no matter their political stripe. He lived well, if not quite long enough.

John Thomas Rafferty was born to Tom and Elizabeth (nee Wiber) Rafferty in Wingham Ontario on July 3, 1953. Older brother, Tim, beat John to the end by a day, passing on June 29. Both brothers are mourned by their bestie girlies, sisters Mary (Gerry) and Crystabel (Lawrence).

John was a wonderful father to his children (with Donna), Zara (Dane), Elizabeth (Justin), Liam (Ingrid), bonus Dad (with Pam) to Jennifer (Ryan) and Jacob (Kate), and proud grandfather to Jack, Jimmy, and the yet-to-be-born Little Bean.

John is survived by a cast of characters who were near and dear to his heart, especially Russ and Susan, Jim and Cathy, Glenn, Howie, Richard, Ed and Uncle Normie.

He died at home on June 30th with Pam by his side in their special place on Pardee Road in Neebing, ON.

A group of close friends and family gathered on July 3 to celebrate what would have been his 66th birthday. On July 13, John will be interred in the Rafferty family plot at Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener, ON.

To honour John's memory and legacy the John Rafferty Memorial Fund has been set up with the Thunder Bay Community Foundation. Funds will continue his work of bringing social justice to the community.

The Dude abides.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal on Jul. 6, 2019.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
September 6, 2021
I first met John having a neighbouring booth with him at Hymers. John and I just started talking together and before you know it we were talking like we new each other forever. The way John carried himself and how he stood up for the working person. I will forever remember that. Rest In Peace John. Your torch and spirit our still burning brightly.
Martin Kloosterhuis
July 31, 2019
I worked on the same floor as John Rafferty from 2011 until 2015. He was always very nice to me every time he saw me. I send my condolences to his family.
Lawrence Brass
July 14, 2019
John was a brother to my longtime dearest friend Mary Klein. We had the good fortune to visit John in Ottawa and on one of those visits he arranged for me to meet Justin Trudeau. I'll never forget waiting in the office with John and Mary for JT to arrive. John was making jokes and trying to understand what was the big deal! He was clever, witty and so welcoming. I'll never forget that day . Mary and I laugh every time we talk about it. Cheers to you John and deepest sympathy to your family. Kim Thorpe
Kim Thorpe
July 14, 2019
I had the privilege of running against John in two campaigns, though with his predilection for running in campaigns, I have plenty of company. In today's increasingly divisive political environment where the measure of one's worth is too often defined by their position along an imaginary spectrum, John was always able to respect a person despite disagreeing with them. I respected John, and miss our many chance meetings. It was an honor to have known him, debated him, and lost to him.
Richard Neumann
July 8, 2019
It is with a heavy heart, that I learn of
John's passing.John packed a lot of living
In his 65 years.From Schneider's Meats
in Kitchener to the House of Commons!
To his family,my sincerest sympathies.
France Miller
France Miller
July 7, 2019
so sad, so strange...the days that are no more (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

you are definitely flying with the monarch butterflies

zsu zsa
zsu zsa
July 6, 2019
to the Rafferty sorry for your loss Mr. John Rafferty so funny his people who he talk I like to talk him to god bless his family and keep them safe
sherry huston
July 6, 2019
sherry huston
July 6, 2019
I met John years ago when we worked together on the Jail n' Bail fundraiser. We crossed paths many times in our political lives later on and John never ceased to bring a smile to my face with each encounter. John was the epitome of what a human being should be : putting others before himself. Earths loss is Heaven's gain. Rest well John.
Keith Hobbs
July 6, 2019
He was a wonderful man, very private and very humble. My best wishes to Pam and his children.
Dolores Sicheri
July 6, 2019
Such a loss of a very special man, no matter what political stripe you proclaimed, he went above that. Admired him always and will miss him.

Sincerely, Lorraine Wilson
Lorraine Wilson
July 6, 2019
To Zara. My thoughts and my prayers will be with you as you journey through your grieving. Your Dad seemed to be a very special fellow, who put family first, despite his highly successful political life. You were blessed to have such a Dad. I'm trusting that you will always hold special shared memories in your heart.

suzy thornes (Burns, PACI teacher)
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