Family, hard work, honesty and integrity mattered most
December 16, 2010, John Bruce Van Nortwick, publisher, father, mentor and friend, passed away quietly in his home surrounded by family and loving friends. It was the end of a long battle for John and his loved ones who helped him deal with the progressive effects of Alzheimer’s and brain cancer over the past two years.
John was born on Aug. 30, 1931, in San Bernardino, Calif. He was the second child of Goldie Eva Ackerman and William Relph Van Nortwick. His older sister, Theta Harris, her husband Jack, and their children, Norman, Buddy and Teddy were an anchor for John and his family until Theta’s death in 1990. John also was blessed with a younger sister, Norma Jean, whom he loved and enjoyed a close relationship with his entire life.
John grew up in Cozad, Neb. and later lived in Bakersfield, Calif., where he graduated from Bakersfield High School and met is first wife, Evelyn Grace Crase. They later married and were blessed with six children, Jacque, Jane, Jennifer, Tom, Joyce and Joan, who they raised in Tehachapi, Calif., until their divorce in 1972.
Thus began a new phase in John’s life. His marriage to Regina Belle Tew in October of 1973, combined a new family of three children, Cassia, Sheldon and Cindy, with his first six children. Their marriage was blessed with the final two additions to their family, Aaron and Amanda. They were raised in Sanger, Calif., by their loving parents, plenty of older siblings and even under the watchful eyes of a few older nieces and nephews.
John spent most all of his career in sales and marketing. He was trained at New York Life Insurance Company and by a mentor, Mr. Mel Teagan. He always referred to the important skills and disciplines he was taught by Mr. Teagan as being the most important training he ever received. Though they have not worked together in more than 45 years, their relationship remained strong and meaningful to John.
Upon coming to the Central Valley of California in 1975, John became a partner in Agribusiness Publications. His partner, Mr. Jack Stubbs, started the company 10 years earlier. The partnership published many agricultural magazines, targeting the irrigation, aerial application, pest control, dairy and raisin industries.
Their partnership lasted for more than 25 years until Jack’s untimely death in 1998. In 2002 John began to enjoy a period of semi-retirement, coming to the office less often, right up until October of 2010.
John’s humor and stern challenges to be ever more productive will be missed by all who have worked with him. His business associations were personal and meaningful. A “thank you” and other expressions of appreciation were a part of each visit with his staff.
He is a past president of the Sanger Rotary and his association with other members were a special part of the past 30 years. They are a magnificent group who both earned and showed respect to and for one another. They give generously of their time, talent and resources to the betterment of their community and John enjoyed his association with the organization its members.
John would want you to know that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized at the age of 29, after being taught the truthfulness of the gospel by two young missionaries in 1959. It literally changed the course of his life. His knowledge and understanding of The Plan of Salvation changed
everything for him, his family and those who came to know him.
John was one who expected you to be making progress. He would question his children and grandchildren as to what they were doing with what they knew and what they had been blessed with. He attributed any success to an attempt to live as he should, making right choices based on what he knew combined with his own hard work.
John was proceeded in death by his loving wife Regina who passed away just over a year ago. He missed her and through his illness expected her to come home at any time. His second daughter Jane was lost to cancer in 1997. Each of his 11 children, their spouses, 41 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren will miss him. But none will ever forget him.
The work is not done. It has simply shifted to another’s care. His direction and influence for good will continue to be the compass by which Agribusiness Publications will continue to grow and improve.