John Jacob Geyer

Apr 19, 1927 - Apr 22, 2017

Shortly after sharing with friends that he and his family had “painted the town pink,” John Geyer passed away on April 22, 2017 while asleep. He had celebrated his 90th birthday with family and friends the previous week.

John was born in Los Angeles, California to Lee and Nelle Geyer on April 19, 1927. His brother Bob was born 3 years prior. His father was a teacher and principal later elected to the California State Assembly so that by the age of 6, John was an experienced political campaigner, serving as a mascot for political rallies.

By the age of 12, after his father was elected to serve in the 17th Congressional District of California in the US Congress, John was combing the hallways and secret passageways of Congress as a page.  At age 13, he lived on his aunt’s subsistence farm in Wetmore, Kansas, experiencing his father’s upbringing. He learned to milk a cow while his parents worked on the Anti Poll Tax civil rights legislation in DC.

Sadly his father fell ill. John made his way to Bethesda Naval Hospital where he recalled little except that World War I General “Black Jack” Pershing comforted him as his father was close to death.

At age 17 John left high school to serve in World War II with the US Merchant Marines. By age 20, John had traveled to ports on every continent except Antarctica.  During that time, his Liberty Ship carrying ammunition to Tinian saved four downed flyers and, after unloading, docked in Tokyo, days after V-J Day.

Following his service, John attended UCLA where he was president of his fraternity, dated Polly Bergen, was roommate of James Coburn and went on a double date with Elizabeth Taylor. He served several years in the National Guard Reserve and taught ROTC.

After college graduation, John taught civics at Chula Vista High School (California) alongside his brother and he doted over his niece.  He completed a PhD in Educational Psychology at UC Berkeley with dissertation on the modeling of reading.  He married Lynette Arnason, their children Bradford and Melora followed, and he accepted a faculty position at Rutgers University in 1967. The family moved to Lake Nelson in Piscataway, New Jersey. 

John retired in 1992 after serving a number of years as head of the Department of Educational Psychology at Rutgers. By 2000 he split his time between his daughter’s family in Corvallis, Oregon and his son’s family in Cinnaminson, New Jersey to enjoy his five grandchildren to the fullest. In the last year of his life he lived independently at Stoneybrook Lodge in Corvallis, Oregon, where he appreciated the opportunity to make new friends with his contemporaries.

A killer monopoly player, as well as any board or card game, he taught his grandchildren chess as well as craps and poker.  A lover of classical music, he played piano, particularly popular songs from the 1930’s, Mexican Mariachi music and Civil War era hymns. He loved home cooked food and had a perfect record of scoffing at nutrition and exercise advice.  He read a book every 2 days, primarily history. He provided unconditional support and was a great blessing to his family and friends. 

John is survived by children Brad Geyer and Melora Halaj, their spouses Susan Geyer and Juraj Halaj, grandchildren Victoria, Brad, and Elizabeth Geyer and Jacob and Matthew Halaj, and niece Melinda Geyer. As per John’s request, there will be no service.


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