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John Lewis Warshow

JohnLewisWarshowObitBWImageJohn Lewis Warshow died peacefully on June 28 surrounded by his family and listening to the Grateful Dead, after a brief battle with multiple myeloma. John had been steadfast in dealing with Parkinson’s disease for eight years, persevering in good spirits and continuing his activities as much as possible despite the limitations imposed by the disease. He never complained and refused to be defeated.

Born on April 18, 1956, in New York City, John grew up in Port Washington, Long Island. John first came to Goddard College in 1976 drawn by the progressive, non-traditional education and the easy access to hiking in the beautiful Vermont countryside.

The move turned out to be a life-changing experience in many ways. He became active in the anti-nuclear movement with his professor Scott Nielsen, which eventually led him to argue pro se in front of the Vermont Supreme Court in State V. Warshow after he was arrested for trespassing at Vermont Yankee while protesting with both Scott and his future business partner Mathew Rubin. He was later given an honorary paralegal degree by Woodbury College for this work. At Goddard, he was also introduced to the concept of alternative energy, which he believed to be the answer to “What is the alternative to nuclear power?” Renewable energy became the basis of his working life. John’s other introduction at Goddard was to Scott Nielsen’s daughter Jenny; the two spent the next 38 years together, made Marshfield their home, and had two sons, David and Ethan.

John lived with passion and purpose and concern for his community. His first effort at developing a hydro site was in Plainfield, Vermont where he attempted to organize the town to build a publicly owned facility. A vote and a revote which were both in favor of the project were held but by the time of the second vote the grant opportunities to fund the project had expired. He served for twenty years as a member of the Marshfield selectboard. John was known as a fiscal conservative and a visionary leader. He was attentive to building a solid basis for town operations while also helping to preserve the cultural history of the area including the preservation of the Martin Covered Bridge. He also envisioned new traditions for the future as he negotiated the town’s acquisition of the Stranahan Memorial Town Forest, a project John was instrumental preserving for the town’s recreational enjoyment. At every step along his way, John was known for his calm, reasoned approach, consideration of all viewpoints, humor, and clarity of thought and presentation.

Instrumental in the development of several of Vermont’s earliest modern hydroelectric projects in Central Vermont and in Chittenden County, he led the effort—against significant opposition—to assure small power producers a return that enabled the development of new resources. In more recent years, he turned his attention to solar energy projects.

John always had a good sense of humor. Starting in elementary school he would get in laughing attacks and his teachers would send him into the hallway until he could control himself. Those laughing attacks continued throughout his whole life. Before appearing in court, after being arrested protesting nuclear power, he made a kangaroo suit to wear, as he thought it was a kangaroo court. He loved to don ridiculous costumes for the smallest reason, or no reason at all, just to make us, or him, laugh. He would often improvise costumes from his surroundings whether on the beach or in the grocery store. At one particularly memorable selectboard meeting after a resident went on an anti-Semitic tirade and stormed out, John calmly proclaimed “Well, I guess no Hanukkah cookies for him this year.” He insisted his mailing address for VIPRG be “John ‘No Nukes’ Warshow.” John’s first words of introduction to Jenny were spoken after inhaling helium from a ‘No Nukes’ balloon that she was handing out at a celebration of the sun, “Sun Day,” on the State House lawn. At numerous birthday parties for his children he was known to appear in giant underwear held up by red suspenders.

John played an active role as father and example to his sons, supplementing their traditional school work with special projects (including a solar powered tree house and catapults small and large) and travel experiences. He took great pride and pleasure in their every accomplishment.

John is survived by his wife Jenny, his sons David and Ethan, his father Alan of Manhasset, L.I., his sisters Leslie of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Susan of Port Washington, nieces Hannah and Julia, of Upton MA, and his nephew Jason, of Salt Lake City UT, who called John “Uncle Maple.” He will always live in the hearts of his extended family, many friends, colleagues and the community.

A memorial service will be held at Marshfield’s Old Schoolhouse Common, on Sunday, July 19th, 2015 at 10 a.m. Please bring written memories and photos that can be lent or given for scanning to become part of a memory book.

Contributions in John’s memory may be made to the John L. Warshow Memorial Fund being created to support the development and maintenance of recreational, educational, and historical opportunities in Marshfield such as the Stranahan Memorial Town Forest that John helped create.

Memorial fund donations should be payable to the John L. Warshow Memorial Fund and sent to:

C/O Rich Phillips
1119 Hollister Hill Road
Plainfield, VT 05667

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