John Babbs died from
cancer at his home in Glenwood, Oregon on
April 12, 2012. John was born in Columbus, Ohio to Kenneth and Frances Babbs. He
grew up in Mentor, Ohio, near Lake Erie and spent countless summer days at the lake
skipping flat rocks across the water. He was a three sport athlete in high school, played
baritone horn in the band and wrote for the school paper. He received a BA from Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, where he also played on the football and basketball
teams. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and proudly wore their pin,
for he was a practitioner of their motto: "Love of learning is the guide of life."
earned his Masters Degree in English from Ohio State University and
at one of their satellite campuses. He also taught at a boys prep school in Pennsylvania,
and at Cleveland State. Later, after moving west, he taught at Southern Oregon College
and The University of Oregon. He served two years in the Army as a clerk-typist at Fort Knox.
was one of the original Merry Pranksters on Ken Kesey's psychedelic
Further, during the famous trip to Madhattan and back in 1964.
moved to Springfield, Oregon in 1972 and bought a small house on M
where he lived until the city widened the street, put in sidewalks and sent out notices the
house owners would be billed for the work. John immediately sold the house along with
the bill from the city, and bought his "God's Little Acre" in Glenwood, an idyllic haven
of trees and shrubs and flowers bordered by a slough on three sides; a place where critturs
and birds roam.
house was his studio. There he wrote books and stories and painted
oils, almost all dealing with his lifelong passion: fly fishing. The North Fork of the
Willamette River was his favorite fishing spot and he knew every pool and riffle from
the covered bridge in Westfir to the Kiahanie campground, far upstream.
never gave up his love for playing basketball. He was on the multi-year
Springfield Industrial League championship team, The Springfield Creamery Jugs, and
when the league disbanded, John began playing at the YMCA in Eugene, his sharp elbows
and deadly jump shot a fixture on the court well into his 70's.
with the many friends John made at the Y, were his card playing buddies
at the weekly poker game he held at his house. The hands were dealt fast, the money was
flowing, and deuces were always wild. John played a cagey game and won more than he
lost but the real gain was the camaraderie built up over the years, lasting until his final
poker game four days before he died.
can forget John tooling around town in his handpainted with a fish on
hood 1974 MGB convertible? Or the smile on his face captured in a photo when he netted
a fourteen inch rainbow and released it into the water. A quiet spoken, unostentatious man,
well liked by everyone he met. Never married, but many loving girl friends, John
demonstrated the qualities you admire in a person: persistence, meticulous in his work,
a wry sense of humor.
is survived by his brother, Ken, and nine nephews and nieces and four
nephews and nieces.
JOHN BABBS REMEMBRANCE AND BURIAL
OF HIS ASHES AND POTLUCK SAT. APR 21
John Babbs, who died in April at
the age of 75 from pancreatic cancer, was
a prolific painter over the last forty years of his life. He worked mostly in
oils with a palette knife, and he also did numerous water colors.
He was a consummate fly angler and most of his paintings are of fish and
fishing, with an occasional landscape or a far-fetched self portrait.
A three day
showing of John
Babbs’s works will be held at the New Zone Gallery,
164 W. Broadway in Eugene, Oregon on Friday June 8, Saturday, June 9, and
Sunday, June 10. All works are for sale, proceeds to go to John’s great niece’s college fund.
and drinks and music, starting at
1 PM and going into the night. Viewers are encouraged to bring food to share.
Walker T. Ryan.
Sunday, show hours are 12 to 6.