John Robert Major Sr.
November 23, 2022
John Robert Major, Sr, 78, of Bristow, VA, passed away peacefully Wednesday, November 23, 2022, surrounded by family and his beloved friend.
Born in Birmingham, AL, John was the son of the late James and Hazel Major. John was a graduate of Howe Military Academy in Indiana and Michigan State University. He married his college sweetheart, Sandra Jane Brown, on June 20, 1964 and remained deeply committed to her for 56 years. John joined the Navy while in college and upon graduation served two tours in Vietnam. He later went on to work in human resources at Thrift Drug, Limbach Corporation, and ultimately became Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Dravo Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA. He and Sandy moved to Deep Creek Lake, MD in 1988 where they enjoyed living on the lake, boating, swimming, skiing and hosting many friends and family members. In 2003, they moved to Tybee Island, GA where they were very active in their community, church and owned a consulting company. In 2018, they moved to Tryon, NC where they spent every day thoroughly enjoying their time together until the passing of Sandy in 2020, at which time, John moved to Northern VA.
One month after moving to VA, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, a disease with a typical life expectancy of just months. John, however, refused to accept this fate often saying “I accept the diagnosis, but not the prognosis” and “I plan to run until I am tackled.” He went on to live almost 2½ years longer, living each day with a positive mindset and without complaint. He became an inspiration to everyone as he continued to live a full, engaged, active life, spending most days with family and friends. Since much of this time occurred during the pandemic, many of his visits were spent outside and evolved into “walking and talking.” He was frequently seen walking through his neighborhood with various family members, with the goal of walking at least 100 miles each month, regularly logging 3-5 miles/day. He enjoyed tracking/charting his distances and challenging himself to walk more each month. He particularly appreciated sharing these charts with his wonderful oncologist and seeing his reaction.
Surviving is one daughter, Lisa (Rick) of VA; one son, Rob (Bonnie) of MD; one brother: James (Joan) of NC; two brother-in-laws, David (Linda) of CA and Michael (Cheryl) of MI; three sister-in-laws, Kathy (Jay) of SC, Laura (Joseph) of MI and Lisa (Carlos) of IL; seven grandchildren, Matthew (Taylor) , Jessica, Bradley, Kyleigh, John III (Kaitlyn), Anna Mae and Joseph; two great-grandchildren, Calvert and Margo; beloved friend Helen, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
John will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A celebration of life ceremony for both John and Sandy Major is being planned for June at Deep Creek Lake, MD. If interested in attending, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Inova Health Foundation
Attn: Inova Schar Cancer Institute/Gift Administration
8095 Innovation Park Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
foundation.inova.org (choose Inova Schar Cancer Institute on website)
Promedica Foundations Hospice Memorial Fund
444 N. Summit Street Suite 100
Toledo, OH 43604
John is my brother-in-law and he has been a beloved member of the Brown family ever since my sister Sandy brought him home to meet us. Honorable, intelligent, and committed to his family and his country, John was the kind of man people looked up to with respect and admiration. I know I did. I also enjoyed just being in his company – he often had me laughing at his wry observations of life. I will miss John greatly but will always remember his laughter and his positive attitude, even during the toughest times. I thank him for loving my sister and supporting her during her tough battle with cancer.
To John, family was everything and he loved and took great pleasure in his wife Sandy, and kids, Lisa and Rob, and their ever evolving families.
You are gone from this earth John, but a part of you will always be here, in our hearts. We love you
May John rest in peace. I will miss him very much. Though it has been many years since I have seen John last in person I have so many fond memories of family gatherings at Deep Creek Lake as well as in GA with he and Sandy.
I always appreciated John’s guitar playing around the campfire and his gentle temperament with me and other young boys running around messing up their lovely home! Also, I loved how he’d take us out boating multiple times a day when all I wanted was to go on a fast boat ride!
John will be missed and may he rest in eternal peace!
John married my sister Sandy when I was a baby. He was very influential in my life and my families. I never knew of anyone who had a bad word for him. One of my favorite stories was when we were in the basement in their home in Pennsylvania Probably watching the Steelers game, my mother walked in and saw John throwing baby Rob into the air and catching him and Rob was laughing like crazy and my mom was startled and complained about his safety. John said to my mother Doris you can have an opinion but you don’t have a vote .
I can still see John standing back from the picnic table by the pool my father asked what he was doing and he explained how nice it was to be part of the great big family, I will always think
Fondly of him and his family, greatly missed.
John Major was (is) my friend and my bother in law. I will miss him, his warmth and willingness to listen and only offer so much advice as was needed as indicated by the tone of your voice or the look in your eyes. It was always better to be in his presence to get the full sense of what made it so wonderful to engage with him, but even a short phone call was always a pleasant tonic.
John was deeply committed to his family, his lifelong love, Sandy, and to his country, all without having to ever say so. It was evident in everything he did and how he did it, showing both love and respect to all without obvious effort. It was evident in his passion for helping, using his gifts to support his church, his community or any other cause with a demonstrated need and a worthy mission. No sooner would he end one mission than he would find another.
I remember the man who would pick up his guitar and sing the songs he knew by heart at a campfire with his family. He took quiet pride in his military service and always held all the branches, but especially the Navy in which he served, in the greatest esteem and yet with some persona melancholy for the events he experienced. But never any regret.
John is worth of so much more than this short note that does not do justice to the depth of his spirit. If you knew him, you would also know this. I am so fortunate to call him friend.
I shared this with Lisa and she asked that I share on this guestbook.
This is Jason Buelterman from down in Georgia. I am so so sorry about your dad. John was such a wonderful person. I had the opportunity to work with him when he was on our City Council on Tybee. He was a very rare combination of someone who was extremely kind while at the same time extremely intelligent. Most people as smart as him have a little bit of arrogance to them but not your dad. He was humble in everything he did. He was also very quietly effective. He never bragged about his accomplishments. When he did something for others, they very rarely knew that he was involved in making it happen. For example, after we were hit by a few hurricanes and lots of houses were flooded, he identified a federal grant that was able to allow them to lift their houses at minimal cost to the homeowner. It made HUGE difference in their lives and allows them to live with a whole lot more peace of mind. But I doubt they know how instrumental he was to making it happen. As you know he was also quick to smile and always there to help anytime anyone needed anything. I was so sad to learn of his passing and am sorry for your loss. Your dad was an amazing guy!
Take care and please pass along my condolences to your family….
What a GREAT man John Major was! We loved him and Sandy dearly. A beautiful couple together, and we were blessed to have them as friends. We will really miss his radiant smile, and great laugh. This world was a better place when he and Sandy were in it, but now they are both absent from the body, but present with the Lord.
JOHN WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE. ALWAYS WILLING TO TALK AND S
HARE HIS LEVEL HEADED ADVICE. ALWAYS WILLING TO SHARE HIS VACATION
HOMES, BOATS, MUSIC, MOVIES AND GAMES, NEVER A DULL MOMENT WHEN HAD
AND WIFE SANDY WERE AROUND. JOHN CARED DEEPLY FOR SANDY, DAUGHTER
LISA (RICK) AND SON ROB (BONNIE),AND THE WONDERFUL GRANDCHILDREN
VHE WAS VERY PROUD OF EACH OF THEM. THE EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS
FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY ALSO FELT HIS WARMTH AND LOVE.
WE ALL ADMIRED HIS MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY EDUCATION (AND THEIR
FOOTBALL TEAM). WE ALSO ADMIRED HIS NAVAL DUTY IN VIETNAM AND HIS
SUBSEQUENT CAREER PATH. THERE WERE ALWAYS STORIES TO BE TOLD AND
LISTENED TO. IN RETIREMENT HE SERVED ON TYBEE ISLAND COUNCIL. AND WAS
RESPONSIBLE FOR NUMEROUS UPGRADES WHILE THERE.
HIS COMPASSION FOR OTHERS WAS EVIDENT WHEN SANDY MENTIONED THE F
OLKS ALONG THE TIDE LINE WERE REPEATEDLY FLOODED OUT – WAS THERE
ANYTHING THEY COULD DO . JOHN DOVE INTO RESEARCHING IT, GOT FEMA TO COME
TO TYBEE AND THEY WORKED OUT A PLAN WITH THE MAYOR TO
RAISE AT LEAST 15 HOMES ON STILES. WE ACTUALLY SAW THE FIRST HOME SHOWN
ON THE EVENING SAVANNAH NEWS – IT WAS HAPPENING! BY THAT TIME JOHN
WAS LIVING IN VIRGINIA. WHAT A TESTAMENT TO HIS CONCERN FOR OTHERS
AND THE GET IT DONE MENTALITY!
JAY AND I ARE MISSING HIM ALREADY BUT HAVE SOME FANTASTIC MEMORIES TO KEEP
FOREVER, THEY JUST DON’T MAKE THEM LIKE JOHN ANYMORE, EVERYTHING
ONE COULD BE ALL BUNDLED UP IN ONE BIG PACKAGE.
WITH LOVE AND RESPECT,
KATHY AND JAY GILL (IN-LAWS)