John grew up in the Panama/Buck Creek area and graduated from Panama High School. He was active in both the Navy and the Air Force having served in The Korean War.
John received his Bachelor's Degree in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and received his Master's Degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
He was a teacher and a coach for greater than 50 years. John had a servant heart for teaching his students and loved coaching football. John was willing to help "his kids" after school and stayed in touch with many throughout the years having taught school in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska and Arkansas.
John was a pilot as well as enjoyed tinkering around his farm with is cows and horses. John was a loving father and cared deeply for his family. He enjoyed singing, talking and attending church. Everyone who knew him loved his magic tricks, and we are sure no child he encountered went without seeing his bouncing ball and brown paper sack trick. He will be greatly missed by his children, grandchildren and remaining sister Pat Butler.
John was preceded in death by his wife Derotha who passed away Nov. 11, 2020. He also was preceded in death by a son John R. Hetherington Jr.
Survivors include a daughter Dottie Murphy (Brian) of Diamond, Mo., sons Lane (Penny) of Panama, Darrell of Shady Point, Doug of North Vernon, Ind., Michael (Bernice) of Fairbanks, Alaska, Johnny of Diamond and Jared (fiancée Lauren) of Cameron as well as bonus children Bill (Ann) Russell, Chubb Russell, Sherri (Wally) Williams and multiple grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Liberty Hill Baptist Church, Cameron or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at Evans and Miller Funeral Home, Poteau.