John Finnegan - The Best of Us All - Rest in Peace

I remember a particular NPC in Jersey once. Janosz (pronounced Yan-osh), the plant grower. He walks around town and spread seeds down, seeming oblivious to the mutant plant things that sprung up, every few steps he's stop and scream "Janosz! Janosz is here!" After some rp and fighting, I had a question for John, so I walked up with my hand on my head and whisped, "John, i have a question." In the loudest and worst accent ever, throwing up his hands and raining seeds everywhere.... "There is no John.. Only Janosz!" That broke me, most of the NPCs and a few PCs. That's is one of my fondest memories of John, you never know when he was gonna make you laugh, you just knew it would be often, and always funny.
I just heard the news. Colleen, Patrick... what can I do for you? Please tell me. I'm here whenever you need me.

What a loss for everyone; his beautiful voice, his big bear hugs, his shining spirit and his eternal patience and gentleness. There was no one like John.
Friends of John,
This may sound corny but it is true. And I hope someone will pick up the torch for me. I cannot be there for the memorial and I wish someone to read this there for me. It is a very short poem by Robert Frost. But it reminds me of John and it has been stuck in my head since I heard about his passing.

"Natures first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower,
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf,
so Eden sank to grief.
Dawn goes down to day,
Nothing Gold Can Stay." By Robert Frost

In this poem, I have always thought of Gold as being our imagination, our innocence. Things we want to hold onto, like John. He was the motivation behind so much of what helped bring our imaginations alive. When I met John there was an innocence about him, something that made you trust HIM. He was a piece of Gold in this world to so many people and he shined in all of our lives. He brought joy into so many peoples lives by letting them be innocent, and use thier imagination and have fun with it. That kind of person is a treasure in this world just because he could not stay with us physically, he will always be with us emotionally, and in our hearts....Stay gold there as long as you can, and it will be a fitting tribute to John. We all loved him in so many different ways. I personally will never forget him.

Michael Manning

Please let me know if someone has done this for me...It means a great deal to me.

My heart aches for you so much. I've already posted here, but I remembered a particular story that I wanted to share with you. I don't know if you will remember this, but I will never forget one time at an event in the 1990s we were all sitting around the Smoker's Guild (I was there just to hang out with John since I don't smoke). You were there talking to someone else and I remember John looking up at you, just watching you. Then when your conversation ended, he said to you, with all seriousness and love, "You are a gamer's dream girl."

I'll never forget that moment. John loved you so much and he wasn't afraid to show it. You were embarrassed, of course, and you told him to knock it off. But he just smiled his warm smile.

--- Eric Stehle
I am not sure what to feel.
I just herd about your passing
I am not sure what to feel
All my memories of you come flushing into my mind
I am not sure what to feel
God has made a mistake
I am not sure what to feel
I want to scream in protest
I feel like I took for granted the last time I saw you
I thought this summer would bring back familiar faces once again; it will not bring back yours, and I am not sure what to feel
I want to cry, I want to shout, I want to curse the god who took you from us.

I will think about you this day, your on my mind and in my heart.

I will miss you so much, we all will.

Rest in Peace John Finnegan

And thank you so much my friend for all the joy you bought into our lives, I pray to the God I hate right now that we all did the same for you.

John was instrumental in getting our chapter started, and had been mentoring me in getting things off the ground. I know his advice and assistance will make our game better than it otherwise could have been.

Our first event is 3/28, which I am dedicating in John's memory. I will be calling for a moment of silence during opening ceremonies. It seems like so little to do for a man that has helped me so much.
I was trying to think of a good way to honor John's memory. Some people write, sing, or speak. I was never really one for any of that. So I did what my Greek blood demanded I do to celebrate and mourn the eternal memory of a fallen brother to so many:


I'll see everyone on Saturday.
I am so far away - I have grieved for the loss of 4 family members since I came overseas and I consider this number 5.
It kills me a little inside to know that this is another funeral and gathering I will have to miss, but I will be remembering and mourning for him on the other side of the planet.

Colleen - Being I am a world away, I will not give you my number. The long distance cost is crazy. Instead, you know my email. You are on my Friends and Family list and get those sporadic Island Updates I send out. If you need to vent and can't do it in speech, send it to me in written word. I am here for you, even though I am too far away to hug you and cry with you and share my stories face to face. You and John have always been there for me.

I will be here for you, no matter how far away life seperates us.

All my love,

This isn't how it's supposed to happen. We're supposed to get back together again when we're old and laugh about our adventures.

John, you're such a terrific person. You're wittier than I am and nicer than I am. You're a statesman, you get everyone together on the same page. What are you doing, dying like that. That's not fair. You're such a a fair person, what are you doing? You're kind and forthright and wonderfully creative. You're a natural leader with your egalitarian nature and terrific voice. You hold yourself like a man. Have you ever made an enemy in your life? You can sing Jesus Christ Superstar better than anyone. You love Colleen as much as anyone has ever loved anyone else. I was at your wedding! I sat in the section with all us other crazy people friends with perfectly pressed costumes and ruffles, Did I tell you that I wore knee-high leather boots under my tux?

You've done this Nero thing for so long. You've made it a creative outlet and a hobby and a life and so much fun. You've helped so many people enjoy life and break out their wild side. What are you doing? Isn't it stupid of me to think to ask you to pull from the bag?

You rock. You know that... and you keep rocking. You're not jaded or stuck up or a jerk or ever mean to anybody. You've got a terrific handshake and just about every time I've ever seen you, you've had a bright sparkle in your eye... except maybe once at 3am at the monster desk, and even then you rocked.

Last we met, we had drinks at that Irish Bar in Stroudsburg. You looked fine. You even went light on drinking... did you even have a beer? I did. Sure, it was a while back... jeez, a couple years. Time flies. Friends are forever, right?

Lee Sonko
This is just to add the condolences from Joe and Asia M.. We didn't know him very well, but we're shocked and saddened all the same.

I have very much respect for people like John, who devote themselves to things like the Alliance LARP, and get far enough with it to really make people happier. I will always remember how he complimented my NPCing and called me "one of my Droogs" after a NJ game. It was a sincere compliment, something I often find the world in short supply of, and I'll always remember it.
I never got to know John as well as many of you did. I always heard great stories about him, and marveled at the legends that surrounded him.

When I finally did get to meet him, he seemed like a nice enough guy. It wasn't until I got cooped up in the top of the building at the high level NJ event a few years ago that I really wound up spending any sort of time with him. He got trapped out on the balcony of the building when the PCs warded it and dropped a circle at the only entrance. So it was just him out there packeting the PCs like a madman.

He'd given me the role of this uber life elemental. I remember that I was all tired and nervous and discouraged and he kept encouraging me to hang in there, that it would all come together soon, and that I would be great, no worries. And somehow it did all work out.

My last memory of John is of him at Scott and Dee's halloween party as Harry Potter. What a trip and what a great sense of humor. I didn't recognize him for a long time, because he had shaved for the costume.

Unfortunately we have a family obligation that prevents us from attending the memorial services. This chaps me to no end - I REALLY wish we could be there.

Anyway, my heart and my prayers are going out to all of you, especially Colleen. I will pray for God to bring you all solace and comfort. If we can be of help in any way, please let us know.


A and J
I have so much I want to say that I have no idea where to start.

I began playing Nero coming up on 18 years ago now, back in Mass. I remember meeting John in those first years of the game, but I did not play in the same circles as he at that point. It wasn’t until the time Ashbury came into being that I really got to know John. I think that was around 1992.

For many years from that point, Ashbury became a focal point in my life. John, as an extension on that, became one also. John was an amazing person to be around. Many people reading the posts on this thread may not have known John personally, or maybe did not have personal or close dealings with him, but please allow me to say this…he was the single most amazing, creative, imaginative individual I have ever known or could hope to know. His writings and creations rival those of the most famous sci-fi/fantasy authors in history. And to say that, in John’s case, would be an understatement.

My character, a biata with the propensity for being quite emotional and at times far too serious, was very much influenced by my dealings with Baron, then Duke Bryan (John). I remember many times our characters being at odds, but Bryan (John) always had a way of soothing things over. That played out in John’s real life as well.

I remember, prior to the split, that Duke Bryan was gone. I remember going home after that event in particular, and actually taking much time to think about my character’s reaction to it so I could figure out how it should play out in my character’s personality. John’s light and bright soul played such a role in his being, and from such into his character, that it left my character’s personality that much darker without Bryan. Those people who knew my character from that point probably remember my character becoming less forgiving, more irritable, and a downright lousy person. Regretfully, it was around that time the split happened. I went with the part of the game that was closer to where I lived at that time, so needless to say I was not a part of Alliance. However, I think that those that also attended the games I did from that time saw how dark my character became. I attribute that to the loss of light I found from John and his character.

John was a beacon of light in the darkness at the time of the split. I have very often thought of going to a game where he was to be, just to see some of the old friends I have missed these last many years, John especially amongst them.

While Ashbury was still based out of NYC, I joined plot committee and served there alongside John. I remember some very heated arguments between he and I at times, between he and Mike, between all three of us. I tell you all, the three of us could have heated the city at times with our hot headedness, but most often it was John that found a way to bring things down, and we would all be able to work together. Without John, I think the game would have possibly collapsed, but John was always able to bring it all together.

I sometimes used to joke with John in those days that he had completely missed his calling. I told him I felt that he would have made an amazing politician. I remember him telling me at one point, “nah, I couldn’t lie that good.” Maybe not, but I still feel he was the kind of person that could convince bitterest enemies to lay down arms and embrace. He was just that kind of person.

Can a person miss someone they haven’t seen in nearly 10 years? The answer is undoubtedly, yes. I found out John had passed while I was at work. That’s a funny story in itself. Those that knew me back in the day are likely to laugh their heads off or scream when they read that I have become a police officer in Connecticut. I think I can attribute part of that to John as well, for some of the gifts that he showed me.

While at work, I couldn’t write at all. In my job, I have to work through everything, but when you sit down to write, everything comes into your head. (just like this post that seems to go on forever). I simply could not focus on my reports, I kept thinking of John. Thinking about writing with him, about having wanted to see him and others many times over the last few years, about wanting to hear his voice and be there with him. And now, I will not see him again until I get the same call home.

I actually think that John had a hand, unbeknownst to him, of my becoming an officer. John demonstrated what it was like to be able to create something from chaos. How to make something that was bad into something good. John was always able to make arguing people come to some agreement. John taught me that using a little patience with people really went a very long way in getting them to agree, and to eventually do the right thing. Without those skills, I couldn’t do what I do. It may not have been John that gave me those skills, but seeing him actually use them for me to see, made it so I knew it could be done. He was a natural born leader.

Now, Colleen, if you have made it this far….

I almost cried when I read your post from Thursday morning. I cannot imagine what you are going through at this point. The only thing I can say is to allow yourself to cry. It really does help. Remember John for the man he has always been, and always will be in your heart. When the time comes, celebrate his life. I remember times when John was sad, but I have far more memories of his smiles, and his laugh. I remember how that laugh could fill a room filled with a hundred people! Take the time, close your eyes, and think about that laugh. I am now, and it even now, after not seeing him for so long, fills my heart. Know that you have friends that will come from everywhere to help you through this. Even those you may have forgotten about.

May you rest in peace John. Know that the world is that much dimmer from your passing. You will be forever missed.

Brian Burke
I cherish the few times I was able to be with John, they are like small sunrises in my heart. I first met John Finnegan at the Ashbury Graveyards event. I only had the opportunity to be with him for a few short hours that day, but in that time I learned that all the stories about him fell far short. I had heard of the writing he had done, the depth of the characters he played, how he brought whole worlds to life. Meeting him that first time was stepping into the presence of a powerful role model. But what struck me most when I met him playing Baron Nordenn was his joy. To see John smile was to see the sunrise. John was a gentle giant, who delighted in life, and who knew joy, peace and happiness. With a beautiful wife and a family and extended family who loved him and who he loved in turn, John was the epitome of living life to the fullest.

In the few short years I have known John, he imparted that love, that joy, and I am enriched for having known him. His laugh, his silly songs, even his gentle rebukes have helped to make my sunrises more beautiful. I fondly remember cleaning up monster camp in NJ with John, while he sang his favorite songs. And because John brought his all to everything he did, even a simple role as a sheep in a crazy personal mod, John’s love for life shown through, and everyone who witnessed his sheep come on to a poor puritanical highlander fell down laughing. John also wanted you to have the most fun possible. When I received a call from him one day, out of the blue, and he asked if I would consider a role as Chamberlain for the NJ "Formal Council" I was positively giddy. We talked for hours, working on some of the vision he had. He wanted that role in a PC's hands, so some politicing could emerge. When a session finally came where I sued my role to my advantage, even as John's character rebuked me, I saw his eyes sparkle. His dream had come to fruition.

When I heard of John’s passing, it felt like a somber sunset, clouding over my heart. I sat at the lighting console at work, as the lights faded, stunned. I looked over the last several months, thinking of the times I could not be at the gatherings, thinking there would be time in the summer, when my down season hit. When I could sing along to old 80's music, while pushing a broom along side John. It grieves me that I cannot be there with you all, to share in our common loss. From our perspective, the sun has set, a light has gone out from this world. But I know there is another side to this sunset, God’s perspective. For those of us left behind, today we grieve in a sunset, but for John, who has passed on through the other side, today is a sunrise, a new beginning. And through that knowledge, I look forward to the day when I once more may see his smile that lights up the sunrise with joy. I celebrate John’s Sunrise, even as I mourn our sunset, and so John, may God bless and keep you, may He draw you near, May God’s face light upon you, and may He give you His peace.

Rev. Peter J. Ross II
I remember a NJ event a couple years ago. I had been going through some rough stuff and it was the first event post-crisis.
I walked over to our yurt, and said hi to everyone.
John greeted me with his custumary, "Hey, buddy!" with his big goofy smile, and asked me what was going on. I gave him what was intended to be a brief synopsis and ended up being something along the lines of a half hour long complaint-fest.
John looked at me and said something along the lines of, "What? Am I not your friend?"
I looked back at him and the only thing I could say was, "Of course you are."
And his response was, "Well, buddy, friends call each other when they have problems."

And that was John. He was always there for anyone.

About a week before his party I was trying to get in touch with Colleen with some question about it, and dummy me, I called his cell phone. He picks up and says hi, complains I havn't talked to him in a while, asked me what I needed. I told I was looking for Colleen and called the wrong number. So he says I should e-mail her.

So then apparently he goes and calls Colleen and has her check her e-mail ASAP in case it was something that had gone horribly wrong.

And that was John. He was always concerned.

I'm going to miss John alot. I'm going to miss matching wits with him as Valantar. I'm going to match matching mouths with him as Calimar. But I think most of all I'm going to miss the late night/early morning smokes in his car up at the yurt, just shooting the ****.

Colleen, none of us can match the love you had for John, or the love he had for you. But if you ever need anything from me, call me, whenever, please. Because we all love you too.

-Justin Doheny
585 944 0835
I've been hesitant to post, being from the other side of the fence and not knowing John except in passing - I hope it's not inappropriate for me to do so, as that's not my intent!

I knew John as one of "those Ashbury guys of Shara's" (Emerald the Gypsy, who introduced me to NERO for which I bless AND curse her daily) - I believe he NPC'd an event for Shara and me (the first big plotline I'd run, about my 5th event in the game) along with Patrick (whose hair sticks in my mind to this day) along with a few others who made the drive up to Mass.

My words are for all of you who have posted such spectacular stories about how he's touched your lives: Thank you. I've been keeping up with the posts, frequently with tears in my eyes, to see what an impact one person can make on so many people. There are many potential friendships that were lost due to the split - I regret not having had the opportunity to play more with someone so clearly admired by those around him.

As many on this list know from firsthand experience, running the game can drain us, emotionally, physically - it puts friendships at risk, creates drama out of misunderstandings, and builds tensions where none belong. After playing for 12 years and owning for 8, I'm constantly near or at max burnout factor. Seeing how one person can so drastically impact (for the good) so many other people's game reminds me of the importance of being positive and upbeat for my players. I've been reading and been inspired, asking myself "have I been thanking my NPCs often enough? " "what can I do to make sure they get chances, the way John clearly went out of his way to do?" "can I be cheerful and make cleanup a less grueling task?" "how can I be the kind of person that makes someone's game brighter?" I'm going to spend my season giving myself reality checks more often and asking "Have I done what John would have done?" I've suggested that my staff read through these posts, too, whether they knew John or not. I hope that everyone - PC, NPC, staff - no matter what the game system, takes it upon themselves to encourage and welcome a new or less experienced player to the joys of LARPing. I know I'd feel honored to be remembered even half as fondly as John is being thought of here - I should live my life striving to be worthy of it.

Thank you all for reminding me what I love about LARPing - the people and the collective joy, creativity, and strength they bring to it.

-Rachel Morris (NERO Mass/Ravenholt)
One of the best memories I have of John is him playing Bugbsy in his fez hat and robes. We were in game during a "council meeting" and Whitesword was called forth by Lauroc to explain the proposal we had. Now John had this goofy voice when he played Bugsby. He began in the goofy voice to speak then he stopped looked at everyone cleared his throat and asked inb his goofy voice if we minded if he used his "Speaking engagement voice"....there were some low murmur and then John belted out in this amazing captivating booming professional voice the rest of his speech. I have only lost it twice in Character once to Patrick Von Raven and the second time was to John. I almost fell out of my chair and I walked out of the meeting.. I had to smile and chuckle. John had that special spark that made you feel comfortable with him. He was one of the warmest, generous, friendliest people I have ever had the honor to know.

Colleen...we all love you and care about you. We can never replace him..but we can be there for you. I said it before ..and I will say it again. If you need me I will be there.

908-472-5357 - c
732-381-2572 - h
I did not know John Finnegan at all. I met him only once, maybe twice over the years, But I was shocked to find this news. Shock for the pain and loss that Colleen and Patrick must be feeling as well as John's family. I grew up with Patrick and Colleen and although the years took us to different places they both never left my heart. Last week, I dreamt of them both. The three of us, carefree kids, having fun during another timeless summer night in Brooklyn, NY. One of several that comes to me now and then fondly over the years. I wondered where this one came from? Why in the midst of a very trying time for my family (My wife was hospitalized for two weeks) that they would again come to my dreams with such a strong force, one I couldn't shake even after waking up and getting on with the stress of the day. With thoughts of maybe sending an email or a call to Patrick, I moved on. Alas, like so many other similar plans over the years, I never got to send that e-mail or make that call. And yet both Pat and Colleen wouldn't fade from my thoughts. Here at work, having a free minute and not being able to shake my childhood friends from my mind, I Googled them both not expecting to find anything at all and then I find this news.

Again, for all of John's wonderful friends, I apologize for not knowing him as well as all of you. It is clearly my loss, but I didn't need to know the man to know what kind of man he was...and is. For someone to win the heart of Colleen and to be called Brother with such love by Patrick, speaks volumes to me about who John Finnegan really is. He will be missed and my heart aches for the pain and loss that my childhood friends are going through.

Patrick and Colleen, Pat and Laura, My family and I will pray for you and all who miss John now. It is small words, but Patrick is right, someone that can effect so many with so much love is never gone. I am no where near as articulate as the many that posted before me and I am writing this immediately after reading the news so apologize if I ramble, but I needed to let Patrick and Colleen know they are in my prayers and in my heart right at this minute.

I didn't know why both of their faces stayed with me so long after my dream last week, but I do now. I will be calling. Again, I am sorry for your pain, I hope to be in touch soon. You both will always be in my heart. If you need anything, even to just talk, don't hesitate. Anything at all.


God Bless,

Well... I just got home from the Viewing. It was a long drive down this morning... it was an even longer drive back!

FWIW- John looked great! His Mom and I kept saying that we kept expecting him to sit up and let us in on this big joke that he'd pulled on us! ... I think we said it at least eight times... Colleen is still as beautiful as I remember her from so long ago... and I didn't even recognize Patrick! Mike looks the same. Heidi looks great! Others... faces were familiar... once old IG Character names were given, then memories came flowing back!

I've been racking my brain driving home... trying to think of ways I can improve myself and my Game. To try to live up to John's legend. To try to emulate him more. How to bring more kewlness to the Game. And more joy to my mundane life as well!

I know that I will never be able to come close to his accomplishments... but I am inspired to try!

heh... I have so much to say! But words are failing me...

I miss him...

Take care everyone! Good to cya!

It has been a long time since I played NERO...and a long time since I lived near an active chapter. When I heard this, I was shocked; the shock has not entirely worn off yet. I could not let this pass without extending my sympathy to the entire Alliance Family, and especially Colleen, Patrick, and the rest of John's family. There will never be another John Finnegan; we were all lucky to know him. John and his loved ones are in my thoughts and my prayers. (My husband Pete has heard so many wonderful stories of John that he would like to offer his condolences too, though he never had the chance to meet him.)

EDIT: I just remembered that when I was shot all those years ago, John was the second person to call my hospital room (minutes after Annie Morris). The first words out of his mouth where, "Are you going to be all right?" and the second were, "Did they catch the bastard?" That kind of concern epitomizes John for me. He was someone who really cared.

Simonne Grant
(aka Kit Waterwise)