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Obituary of John Bertrand Preston
John Bertrand Preston, 81, died July 13th at Providence Mother Joseph Care Center from secondary complications related to a massive stroke he suffered in 2013 while recovering post-op from a minor knee surgery.
His daughter, Tiffany, was at his bedside when he passed.
John was born March 24th, 1942 in Olympia Washington to Bertrand "Bud" Preston and Mae Irene (Zamberlin) Olson.
John was preceded in death by his beloved son Robert "Robbie" Michael Preston, his mother Mae Olson, his father Bud Preston, his stepfather Ernie Olson, and his stepbrother Warren Olson Sr.
He is survived by his longtime companion, Sharon Franze, his children John Alan Preston and Tiffany Lynn Preston, his brother Michael Olson and wife Maria Teresa, nephew Aaron Olson and wife Jenne, great niece Magnolia "Maggie" Olson, nephew Morgan Tougas, great nephew Dean Tougas, niece Gabriela "Gabby" Joya, nephews Warren Olson Jr and Byron Olson, niece Christina Bjorkman Domino and nephew Mike Bjorkman.
John was the great grandson of Olympia pioneer, Magnus Stuth, who was a founding member of the Olympia Oyster Company in 1878. John was also the grandson of Joseph and Emma (Stuth) Zamberlin who owned Olympia's first fish market, Olympia Packing Company.
John graduated from Olympia High School in 1961 and had many employment interests. He worked as commercial fisherman out of Tokeland, WA in the 1970s. He was also a boxing coach and long-time friend to professional boxer John L Sullivan, who was once ranked 6th in the world. John loved sports and was an athletic trainer for many years, not only did he train folks in local gyms, he worked with the Capital High School football team as well.
John worked for the Washington state Legislature for 46 years (46 legislative sessions). For decades, he was a welcoming and familiar face when you arrived on the Capitol campus; coordinating security and logistics for the public and legislative members including senators, representatives, and governors.
John had a loving community of close lifelong friends who always looked out for him. His children referred to them as the "Rat Pack". Doug and Loretta Staples, Jim and Cathy Douglas, Pat Bean, Maryann and John Sigman, Michael Moore, and Carl and Joyce Phillips, Eric Mattson, John L. Sullivan, and Marylin Rogers, just to name a few.
After John stroked, his childhood friend Carl, who now lives in Alabama, would call John at the nursing home, and although John couldn't talk any longer due to aphasia, Carl would razz him on the phone and John would laugh and laugh. Carl called John at the nursing home every single day for nearly 10 years. And if thats not impressive enough, Carls wife, Joyce, would send John cards and letters several times a week for nearly 10yrs as well. Their devotion and friendship to John touched his family deeply and there are no words to express their gratitude for the love, devotion, and encouragement they so generously gave to John.
John had several traumatic and debilitating accidents that would alter the course of his life. In 1978, he was a passenger in a devastating automobile accident that left him paralyzed and he nearly died. Doctors told him he would never walk again. He refused to accept this fate and with sheer grit, he immersed himself in exercise and strength training. And he indeed did walk again. Ataxic it was, but he walked nonetheless. His steadfast determination and survival skills left a profound impact on his children. Teaching them resilience and perseverance every day of his life. He even made several attempts to summit Mt Rainier just so his children could say "my dad climbed Mt Rainier". At John's peak physical fitness, he was able to bench 400lbs.
John hadn't had a sip of alcohol since that tragic accident on June 6, 1978. He remarkably passed away with over 45 years of sobriety.
For nearly 35 years, he was an iconic member at the Franklin street YMCA. He worked out nearly every day for decades. If John wasn't home or at the Capitol building, it was 99% likely you could find him at the Y.
John was interested in holistic medicine and took classes in the 1970s that included the art of massage and herbal supplements. He had a natural healing remedy for everything. Its worth noting he drank pure Aloe Vera juice daily straight from the jug.
John was a proud father of his three children John Alan, Robert "Robbie" and daughter, Tiffany, whom he shared with his ex wife, Barbara Bjorkman Preston. Although they separated in 1969 and later divorced, John and Barbara were models of decency and civility in the successful coparenting of their children.
John's smile and infectious laugh were one of the most memorable things about him. He was always laughing, and that's no exaggeration. Perhaps two of his best qualities were his fantastic sense of humor and his genuine kindness. He was sensitive, forgiving, loving, gentle and at the risk of sounding cliche, he would give anyone the shirt off his own back. He never stayed mad at anyone long - he couldn't, it just wasn't his nature.
John believed in equality and justice for all and was active in progressive politics and the local democratic community and worked on several campaigns throughout the years.
John was an avid hunter and fisherman and spent months preparing for hunting season. Going over maps, taking inventory, stocking supplies and planning his routes meticulously.
John loved the ocean and spent many summers and weekends throughout his life in Tokeland Washington with his children and best friend, Doug Staples. Swimming in the surf, razor clam digging, crabbing, and fishing were his favorite activities.
John loved western movies, John Wayne, and Elvis Presley. In his final days, it's how he spent his time; watching his favorite old shows with his children by his side. It was the voice of Elvis that sang to him in his final moments.
John was an Olympia institution. The impact of his loss on his family, friends, and the community is immeasurable. He is deeply loved by many, and what a strange and empty world it will be without his beautiful spirit.
Peace be with you, Daddy. If we had to do it all over again, we would still choose you.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life at Littlerock Posse Hall Saturday, August 26, 5 to 9PMish. A graveside service at Masonic Memorial Park in Tumwater, WA to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to John B Preston Memorial Fund at Gofundme https://gofund.me/f701decf
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