John Stewart Moffet passed away peacefully in his Edgartown home, surrounded by his family, after a courageous battle with cancer.
John was born in Peoria, Ill., and grew up in the rural, western Illinois town of Monmouth. It was in small-town America that he acquired the character traits of honesty, loyalty, and integrity by which he tried to live his life. Blessed to travel extensively as a boy, John gained an appreciation of the beauties of our country. Family trips with his two brothers remained pleasant memories throughout his life.
An above-average student through below-average effort, John preferred being outdoors, and enjoyed participating on the high school golf and swim teams. A life-changing event during high school was going to Camp Voyageur in Ely, Minn. There he met camp owner and future mentor Charlie Erdman, who, in addition to operating the camp, was a physical education professor at Depauw University in Greencastle, Ind.
The Voyageur philosophy was that each camper contribute as much as they were able, notwithstanding that each person would be able to contribute a different amount. It was an invaluable lesson for those in their formative years. The friendship and guidance gained at Camp Voyageur led John to attend Depauw University, a small liberal arts school in Indiana. It was there that he learned the direct relationship between effort and results. With a low military draft number, John made efforts as he never had before to secure his continued enrollment at Depauw.
He flourished at the small school, participating on Charlie Erdman‘s swim team, being a member of the junior and senior boards of the university, and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Equally important was working at the top sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, for four years. The risk of being sent to Vietnam instilled in John a mistrust of anyone in authority. As John graduated, the Vietnam War ended. His life changed at that moment. Instead of enlisting in Navy flight school, as he had contemplated, he headed to Martha’s Vineyard on the recommendation of a friend.
A chance meeting with Bob Carroll, who took John under his wing, led John to becoming the manager of the Kelley House. At that time, the Kelley House was the only year-round hotel on the island. The biggest decision in accepting that position was whether he wanted to stay on the Island all winter, having spent the previous two in Oahu, Hawaii, helping his uncle Stewart Riley build his home.
A highlight of his Kelley House years was hosting the cast and crew of Universal Studios as they filmed the movie “Jaws.” A lifetime of friendships was formed that summer of 1974. Later on, while vacationing in Hawaii, he rekindled friendships with Universal Studios employees, which led him to working on the TV show “Magnum, P.I.” As difficult as it was to spend winters on Martha’s Vineyard, it was unsettling to live out of a suitcase, going back and forth between islands.
John later started working for L’Etoile Restaurant and the Edgartown Reading Room. It was at the Reading Room he met his future wife, Julie Williamson. They were married on September 11, 1993. Later that year they built their home in Edgartown. The next of John’s happiest days was Feb. 17, 1999, with the birth of daughter Caroline Victoria. Another joyous occasion came as John and Julie traveled to China, where they adopted daughter Maggie Mei Xiao on Father’s Day, 2006.
A lifetime avid golfer, John enjoyed the fellowship of the Vineyard Golf Course, the membership and tournaments at the Edgartown Golf Course, and playing in the tournaments at Farm Neck. John nearly achieved a hole-in-one on No. 17 at Pebble Beach, and finally achieved golf greatness with a 116-yard hole-in-one on No. 6 at the Woods Hole Golf Course on Oct. 19, 2017. He played for years in the Cape Cod Pro-Am league, where he gained an appreciation of the beauties of the Cape. He enjoyed the fact that golf courses are among the most beautiful properties on earth. In recent winters, he became a fan of the Providence College Friars, and took the girls to hockey games every weekend. On Sunday mornings, John could be found at the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard, where he was a member and former deacon.
John was loyal to a fault, compassionate, generous, engaging, even with strangers, with whom he was quick to share a smile, grateful for such a full life. It was his wish that he left each interaction with the other person feeling better about him/herself. John leaves the loves of his life, Caroline Victoria and Maggie Mei Xiao, their mother Julie Williamson, brothers Stephen and Howard, and a lifetime of friends.
A celebration of John’s life is being planned for the fall.
In place of flowers, donations in John’s memory can be made to Camp Voyager, 709 Voyager Rd., Ely, MN 55731, or to the Anthony H. Meyer Junior Golf Trust, c/o MV Boys and Girls Club, P.O. Box 654, Edgartown, MA 02539.