Raised in Cornwall-on-Hudson, in the shadow of West Point, he graduated from Cornwall Central High School. At Princeton he majored in music, played the organ, and sang in the Chapel Choir.
Upon graduation John pursued studies in music at Yale. He took a job at RMS Associates in Maryland and worked on weekends as an organist at a local church. He became a mathematics teacher at Archbishop Spaulding High School, where he taught for years before accepting a position at the Department of Defense Dependents School in Germany. He returned to New York and served as organist at Church of the Holy Cross in Warrensburg.
John loved the music of Bach, the writing of Shakespeare, libraries, astronomy, and the science of space. But what he really loved was quiz shows. From his high school years as a member of the Academic Bowl quiz team to his decades as a teacher writing quiz questions for high school teams, he was a dedicated quiz-show leader. Always fond of libraries, John served as president of the Stony Creek Free Library.
The class sends condolences to his sister, Jeanne Barner.