Vail Daily column: John Gregory, 1953-2016
John Gregory, born May 23, 1953, died Feb. 5.
Twenty years ago, John found the Back Bowls of Vail and fell in love. He came over for the Christmas week every year with his wife, Pat, and their youngest son, Michael. A two weeks’ timeshare was bought at the Christie Lodge in Avon by emailing Vail Associates to find out what was available after deciding that no other ski area could match Vail. As time passed, he decided that in 2006 it was time to be a full-season ski bum, and he and his wife, Pat, bought into the Reserve in Edwards to fulfill that dream.
John worked as a volunteer on Vail Mountain every Sunday, and enjoyed every minute helping people. Everyone knew Big John, as he was a 6-foot 6-inch gentle giant. He was one of only a handful of people who did the Talons Challenge twice in one day.
Six years ago, he had congestive heart failure on Vail Mountain, but with the safe hands of John Slack, he survived. Five years ago, he started to fight for his life when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer in the United Kingdom. He missed one season, which he hated, but the heavy chemotherapy worked and he came back for another season. Two years ago the cancer came back, with no cure, only management, but once again after seven months of heavy chemotherapy, there was no stopping him coming back for 12 weeks last April. He still volunteered, and his wife, Pat, was a 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships volunteer, as, like John, she loved helping folks. Was there any stopping this amazing guy? Unfortunately, yes — he got home to find the cancer had spread too much, but he still had chemotherapy. Eventually — even though he fought so hard to stay alive — he passed away Feb. 5 in his home.
He was desperate to get back to Vail — it was the place and the people he loved, and the many friends who loved him, too.
John attained a chemistry degree with honors from Oxford University, and worked very hard all his life. He donated money to Oxford to help anyone struggling with fees. John also donated funds every month to the Mission Aviation Fellowship as he cared for all the people who needed help in hard-to-reach areas in the Third World.
John leaves behind wife Pat; children Michael, Jason and Julia; grandchildren Tyrone, Amber, George, Isabelle and Lucas; and many, many friends in the United Kingdom and in the United States, his second home.
John also did a mean Mick Jagger at the Steve Meyer show, and danced the night away anytime he had the chance. He made a difference and left a legacy. He will be missed by many.
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