John was born to Alvin and Bess Dies in Moline, Illinois. He attended public school in McMinnville, Oregon, graduating in 1948 and immediately joined the Navy, followed by attending OSU where he was a member of Sigma Chi and House Manager. He was recalled for the Korean Conflict and because of his Naval service, he was recruited by the USAF, becoming a jet fighter pilot, serving in Korea. Before going to Korea, he met the daughter of his parents best friends, Loma Lawrence. Their courtship was three dates and one and a half years of correspondence. They were married Dec. 28, 1955 and continued to Greenville, Mississippi, where John was a jet flight instructor, then to Texas MIssion AF base as a check pilot. After completing his commitment to the Air Force, John and Loma returned to Corvallis, Oregon and upon graduation from OSU in 1957, John joined US Bank in Portland, Oregon.
While completing US Bank training program, he flew for the AF Air Sea Rescue Squadron. He was transferred to Medford in 1962 as US Bank Business Development Officer, joined and became President of Kiwanis, served as Chairman of United Way and was JC Young Man of the Year. He was Chairman of the Phoenix School District Board of Directors and served as a board member of Medford Rotary. In the early Medford years, John flew for Mercy Flight.
He served as Senior Vice President of Crater National Bank in its organization and successful growth and sale to Western Bank. Rather than leave the Rogue Valley, he joined Smith Barney and then returned to community banking taking over failing banks and returning them to successful banks to be sold to larger banks. He was in the business of fixing “Broken Banks” in the state of Washington and Oregon.
John loved fly fishing, golf, walking the beach and reading. Rotary was his favorite service organization in every community. He and Loma built and lived in their beach home for 18 years before returning to Medford in 2015. While trying to put out the flag to honor Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7, 2019 he suffered a fall which resulted in severe brain trauma injury. Daughters Dana and Cyndi and best friend and wife Loma attended him on his journey to the great airfield in the heavens where he now soars and pilots his collection of air planes.
John is survived by his wife Loma, daughters Dana Penilton (Denise Sidwell) of Portland, Oregon; Cynthia Ackermann (Will) of Hollister, California; grandson John David Penilton of Portland, Oregon; granddaughter Jessica Loma Meade of Hollister, California; sister Joyce Wilson of Silverdale, Washington and nieces Karen Scott, Kathy Thompson and nephew Steve Wilson.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Friends of Southern Oregon Hospice (https://sofriendsofhospice.org/ways-to-give/) or Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice for Celia’s House (217 S Modoc Avenue Medford, OR 97504).
A Celebration of Life has been held.