Born December 6, 1918 in Santa Cruz, Jamaica, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, St. John unites with his loving wife Jeanette (our dear mother) who predeceased him in 1996. He will be greatly missed by his beloved daughters Deborah (the late Tony), Catherine (Jeff), his grandchildren Laura (Michael), Anthony (Christina), Cierra, and his great-grandchildren, Ava, Emma and Lucas. St. John joins his siblings, Carl, Jack, Sybil, Rose, Owen, Cecil, Leslie, and leaves behind his youngest brother Trevor. Dad was fortunate enough to find Norma (predeceased) to help heal his soul when mom passed away. They married and both enjoyed a renewed love for 15 years until her passing. They lived in Perth, Ontario and had enjoyed many visits to Florida and New Jersey. Greatly missed by Norma’s son Perry (Geri) and daughter Donna. They became part of his life and the whole family’s life.
Dad was the son of a dry goods store owner in rural Jamaica and grew up in a house where there was no running water or electricity. Dad was inventive; he sought to understand how things worked and used his knowledge to tinker, solve problems and make things even better than they were before. One of his earliest inventions was to engineer the first light in his house with a battery-powered light in the boys’ bedroom. (circa 1933) He sent away for bulbs and a switch from the US and rigged a single overhead lamp and a switch on the headboard to brighten the room so that he could read in the evenings.
St John was not satisfied working in the dry-good business as a young man in Kingston, and as luck would have it, he happened upon an opportunity to work in the field of electronics. He was hired by the Jamaica Telephone Company and worked there until he immigrated to Canada in 1952. He left Jamaica with a “grip” (a suitcase from his father’s store) and $500 to start a new life for himself. Soon after he arrived in Canada, he sent for his fiancé, Jeanette and they married at Toronto City Hall on July 11th, 1952. He began working for R.H. Nichols Co. as a senior technician until 1967. Later that same year, he joined the York University language lab as an electronics technician until his retirement in 1985. Here, he was celebrated for his significant contributions, especially for his work improving the delivery of language courses through audio technology.
St. John was a man of simple pleasures. He loved to get together and play bridge with his siblings - and would caution “never play with your spouse”. You could often find him enjoying a glass of port or rye and Pepsi daily at 5:00 p.m.
He was fortunate enough to travel the world, witness immense technological innovations, and reflected on the incredible scientific breakthroughs that took place over the last 102 years of his life. At age 96 he stopped driving and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the self-driving electric car. Learning was his passion in life. He voraciously read about mathematics, science and the human body. He loved to contemplate the existence of life on earth and beyond.
Our Dad lived a remarkable long life full of love, laughter, strength and kindness. He loved his large family dearly and will be missed by all who knew him.
“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.” ― Carl Sagan
“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” – Isaac Newton
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