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

Rest in Peace, John Finnegan, you are missed but will never be forgotten. You had a major impact on us all, both in-game and out.

Best wishes to everyone who has posted or is reading this message board, from myself and the entire rest of the "Shield of Vendamor".

- Phil R
I first met John Finnegan back in the basement days of Ashbury, during a faire (NERO in the streets of Brooklyn, I STILL miss that)...actually I believe the first words I ever said to him were "2 Disease! 2 Disease" or something to that effect (his reply being "No Effect", heh) :lol: He was always a fun guy to hang out with, though mostly the time I really started PCing Bryan Nordenn had died in the swamps of Jhivantane, and then the split happened and I went my way (International) and he went his.

I think I remember the times that I remet him better...the one time I briefly visited Ashbury while I was still with NERO Intl., John was still the Plot Director; I walked into one of the cabins, Von Raven and him were talking, then turned around and saw me and welcomed me back. :) A few years later, I had left International and got more fully back into Ashbury, but by then John had left the chapter.

And then there was NERO NJ. I had stopped PCing Ashbury again (lack of money) and was NPCing NJ from time to time, so one fine summer event I show up and walk towards the monster camp, and there's this big guy walking towards me. He shouts to me "Errol, what's going on?" (He thought I was Errol) The voice sounded REAL familiar. So I get a little closer...and it's John Finnegan, at NERO NJ. At that point he recognized me too..."Trent, how've you been buddy?" From then on, I always knew there would be a familiar face at NJ...he always greeted me very warmly, and I always felt the same.

I now regret not getting to know John better...the OOG hanging out at the Brooklyn site, with him and all the old crew, was some of the best times I've ever had in my life. He was definitely a big part of me getting into LARPing as much as I did, and from there led, directly or indirectly, to finding or getting into just about everything else I do now. This is all inspiring me to start LARPing again more now...I haven't really been, and especially not at NERO, and I kind of miss it.

Sadly I wasn't able to make the services yesterday, and won't be able to make the one today either...but all my thoughts are with you guys, Colleen, Patrick, and everyone. If you need anything, I am here...for what it's worth, I'll do my best.

Trent Di Renna
(732) 267-8003
I only met John once in person and I spoke to him quite a few times on the phone along with many e-mails. But I feel like I lost a brother. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

I just returned home from seeing so many of you at the services. What an unforgettable experience. I miss you all so much already.

To those who weren't there: several people mentioned that these posts have helped John's Non-Nero family and friends immeasurably. John's uncle told me that, until he saw these posts, he had no idea John had such an impact on so many people. So, even if you weren't able to come to the services, and if you feel that you are so far away that you can't offer support (or get the support you need), by posting here you have helped more people in more ways than you realize.

If anyone visiting New York (or living here) wants to find me:

Maryan (IG: Petra the Gypsy, primarly from the basement in Brooklyn and Camp Cedarcrest back in the 1990s)
I came back from vacation today to this heartbreaking news. I met John only once but communicated with him a number of times; he was unfailingly polite and jovial, always helpful and never stinting. My gravest condolences to his family.

-Bryan Gregory
Gee-Perwin said:
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:


You're right, Gee. This was the best Baklava I've ever had.
Dear John,

Its really hard to write this letter to you but I had to tell you about your funeral... -I can’t keep the tears back as I type.-

I showed up early because I couldn’t think about anything else all week. It was so hard to see you lying there because you looked so small and you always seemed bigger than life, so full of life. All your friends were there miserable and upset knowing that you won’t be in their lives anymore. They all really miss you and you just left.

But here’s the part you would have loved; some of your closest friends made collages about you filled with all the things you loved and with pictures of your smiling face. -Its so hard to type this cause I just saw it like a couple weeks ago.- That’s when everyone got happy again, John. Even if death, your memory still made us all happy.

We all told stories about you and the things that you did that all really ******* touched us. We couldn’t stay miserable for long and even people who havn’t spoken in years came together. All your friends embraced each other and most importantly, Colleen, who we all know you love so much.

None of us quite know what to do without you but I guess we’re gonna make it up as we go along. I think we are gonna try to be better friends to each other and better friends to the new people in our lives. I think its what you would have wanted most of all.

Thank you for making me happy while you here with us. Thanks for being there for us and I hope that you’ll be sitting on that hobbit hill waiting for me. Till then buddy.

your friend,
Hello everyone, I'm Molly, John's stepsister. What an amazing thing to read so many people's heartfelt words about their love of John. Reading it all, all together it makes me feel that John was just a shining star of light to so many people. Although John is gone, I can see very clearly that in some very important ways, he really isn't gone at all, because he lives on in the memories of people who cared about him deeply. I'm sad to say that in recent years I didn't see John much at all because I lived so very far away from him. Still that doesn't stop me from remembering him when we were all unmarried, teenagers, high schoolers just getting through our ordinary school days. Trust me, even back then he was in a class by himself, showing his own brand of humor that was so typical John... and laughing, I can still hear the sound of his laugh in my mind when I think of him. I remember his beard, his beautiful blue eyes, and on one of the rare occasions when I did spend a weekend with him and Colleen, I was sorry to see them go, I wished we lived closer to each other. I'm sorry I didn't know more about NERO, so that I could have appreciated John even more, when he was "in his element," doing what he did best, I wish I'd gotten to see him do his roleplaying and experienced what it was like, I'm sure it was magical. Colleen, what can I do but add my wishes of love to you and your brother and parents. I promise to keep John in my heart too, so he won't disappear. Love to you all, from Molly and family.
I don’t really know what to say, we have lost a man who in every moment made an impact on everyone around him. All I can think to do is relate to Colleen and others yet another story of how John changed a life for the better. I truly believe if I had not met John I would not be alive today.

The weekend of my first Nero event I had planned on committing suicide. I was in a very bad family situation and honestly felt that it was my only way out and no one would miss me. My plans got derailed when my friend Tabitha dragged me along to go “camping”. I got thrust into a world of fantasy that I had not even imagined. The first and last person to talk to the little wide eyed page that event was John. He told me “I’m looking forward to seeing you in three weeks”. For whatever reason John and his magic broke through my shell and those words hit, its all I thought about for three weeks. I came back to see this bubbly fat man who reached out and seemed to honestly care. He placed a seed of hope that grew and grew with every meeting that there really were good people out there that would care about me. When pulled me aside my third event and let me know that Nero was not only a world I could escape my real life to but a real second family, as he put it “dosn’t suck”...any thought of ending my life was gone.

Nero as he said became an extended family that has exceeded beyond any hope I ever had. It has given me fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters and significant others who have always been there for me. I have grown far beyond that depressed lost girl who couldn’t find anything to live for. None if it would have happened if John didn’t take the 10 minutes of time out of each event to talk to the insignificant page. The love and caring that man had for everyone will be missed. Let his everyday little impacts on people be his legend.

I do not even know where to start.

Alex M. called me a few days ago with the news..and I am as shell shocked now as I was then. We spoke for 30 minutes and half of our conversation was silence - the second half consisted of a lot of "I can't belive this.."

I immediately started calling all the old nordennites who I am still in touch with and passed along the news.

We were all dumb-struck and greatly saddened by the loss. We spent alot of time reliving fond memories of the good old days.

All of us send out deepest sympathies and heartfelt best wishes.

I met many people, a good amount I am still in contact with, because of JT. He was the most genuine, kind hearted soul I have ever met.

I was lucky enough to spend many years as a good friend of his, and have so many good memories from it. In all honesty, do any of you know of another person who could make you smile or laugh - even during the most trying times, like John could?

I met him at Nero mass by chance, on a module..which quickly turned into a close friendship. He invited me to come try out a new game that Mike V was putting together. Squire Bretton Moore was born - later to become Sir Bretton Nordenn - then on to Baron Bretton Nordenn.

Oh the times we had! I remember my first aol account name was a name he coined for me; SquireDep - because I always had to have my hair looking perfect. He was always the joker, the teaser, the well wisher, a historian, singer...tbh what couldnt he do well?

I have 2 quick stories I will share with you, and the old Nordenn guys will remember these well.

We had a long night of fighting some evil baddies in the old Ashbury days. We finally managed to get back to our pigsty of a cabin and get to bed. An hour or two later the sun rose and as usual we slept late - so the baddies decided to take the fight our front door. Yelling insults at us etc..practically begging for us to come out and fight. John jumped up, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and boxers, struggled into his oversized green "baron" shirt, all the while muttering to himself, flung the door of the cabin open and was preparing to give a lecture to the crowd gathered outside our door. He raised his right hand to speak and I yelled out in my highest pitched voice possible "Like my green shirt?" Having taken his moment of glory, and the laughing that ensued from outside - he shamefully shut the door, turned to me - wearing his telltalke mischevious grin and ran and dove onto me laughing swearing "he was going to get me back!" All the while huggign and kissing me. We laughed for hours - and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Another good story;

We were driving home from an event in his green plymouth with 5 of us packed in tight. John was feeling a tad under the weather so pulled out a bottle on Nyquil and started guzzling from it - yes NYQUIL. Dave House immediately piped up on how he didn't think drinking nyquil and driving was a sound idea. Of course John scoffed it off and told us all he always did this and there was nothing to worry about. We all went back to talking about the event, life, making fun of each other, etc.. When we noticed John wasnt talking any more..and the car suddenly lurched to the left - crossed 3 lanes and went into the breakdown lane. We were all yelling and screaming for John to wake up. He jerked awake and quickly righted the car. 30 seconds of silence ensued, to which john broke the silence by saying "I see your point Dave" We all roared in laughter, and made John pull over for someone else to drive.

I do apologize if this seems jumbled..but damn do I miss him. We havent stayed in touch as much as either of us would have liked. I think the last time we spoke was a few years ago through ims and emails. We promised to stay in touch...but as always through distance and busy lives, we did not. I kick myself for not seeing him, getting one of his giant bearhugs and seeing his smiling face.

He swore to me up and down he was going to get me to come to one of the alliance events, even if he had to drive to my doorstep and drag me there. I think I will need to make it a priority to go to one this year. I owe it to my friend.

God speed my friend. You truly were a prince among men.

aka Bretton Nordenn (Faenor Celegorn)

PS It is great to see so many people post here, some who I havent seen or been in contact with for a long time, but who I met and became friends with because of John. It truly is a testament to how great of a freind he was to so many people.
Im sure all that can and could be said has been; but I still need to say what I can...
To Colleen and family : Im so sorry for your tragic loss... John was a wonderful and caring person. It's been almost 10 years since Ive seen him, but he was always one of the few people I knew that could truly empathize with another by walking in their shoes. You always knew he was listening to you, and you always knew he would go that extra mile to make you feel understood. He would go out of his way for someone just to make sure they were having a good time and would play mediator on more occassions than I can remember for the sole reason that he cared about those around him.
Im still in shock over this ... I wish Id had the chance to reconnect with him and spend some more time around such a vital and positive personality like John. Im so sorry.
To the Nero population : Be thankful for the time John spent making the game and the people involved what they are. His stamp will be forever ingraned on what you enjoy today. Although my life has had little time for Larping (and lord knows I miss it something aweful), I still look back fondly on the time I spent with good friends and friends in the making... doing what I loved to do. John was one of those friends... and I miss him terribly !!!
I still cant believe it... I wish I could curse in this forum because this f@%&'ing sucks.
Always value the ones around you... family and friends. Learn what you can from them, because their lives and their lessons define who we are !
Thank You John for Everything that you were, are and will always be !!

Keith Daniel Post
I feel that there is nothing I can say about John that hasn't already been said. I'm heartbroken by his untimely passing just as you all are. He did so much for me in the past, more than I surely deserved, but he was always everyone's unsung champion, wasn't he? Champion, peace-maker, fence-mender. That was our JTF.

I can recall many conversations with him, many late hours in NPC camp when make me laugh so hard that I'd look forward to NPCing just to have the chance to hear more legendary John stories. Everything seems to bleed together in my mind right now, but a few things stick out. I remember the day he called me at work and said "Hey there, lady! Have I got an offer for you!" and we discussed me being a baron. I remember John putting on the soundtrack "The Fifth Element" and lipsynching (and dancing!) to the crazy space aria that the blue diva sang. Even before he died, I couldn't watch that movie without thinking of him moving his arms like a little T-rex in NPC camp. I remember clearly the goofy way he used to say my name, and how we'd joke about the Finnegans and the Egans (my last name) being related clans, therefore making us some sort of distant cousins. I remember the night IG when I was tested for Knighthood and the big OOG hug John gave me when I passed. I remember Colleen pulling me aside at that crazy event where we had to leave Camp Three Cabins because of an ice storm, and the absolute joy I felt when she asked me to be in their wedding. No matter what, that wedding stands out as THE wedding in my mind! (Jimmy H. and I were talking about the garter fiasco tonight...fess up, who really caught that garter, hmm? )

Colleen, Patrick, Christian and the rest of the Finnegan and Capuano families- you have my deepest, most sincere sympathy.

Fate allowed me a way to PA this Saturday, and even though the reason was one of the worst there could possibly be, I'm glad I was there. I've missed everyone so much. I miss you all like brothers and sisters, and I look forward to seeing everyone again as soon as life allows.

All my love,
Alison Egan
Mike V said something at John's funeral that I think many of us were thinking. The house was packed. I've never known anyone to have such a tremendous showing. For as much as the occasion was so very sad, it was heart warming to see all the people who came to pay their respects to a man that was so very loved.

And I'm sure John was smiling down on us as he watched old friends reconnecting; bridges being mended and old grudges forgotten. He always had a knack for bringing people together, and that is one thing that didn't change. Even though he is no longer with us physically, his spirit will always be there in the relationships he helped us build.
I haven't been to a NERONJ game in a long while, but I remember John Finnegan very well. The main reason is that, at Camp Sacajewea, while I was resting peacefully over the side of the pool, John Finnegan threw a pool toy at my butt. I was mostly embarrassed, but I certainly didn't hold it against him (at least, not for too long). It's been nearly five years since this happened, but it was a moment I'll never forget.

I think that was one of John's best qualities. Even if you didn't know him particularly well, there was always one moment--a "John Finnegan moment"--that he had with each person in his life. It's clear from all of the posts on here that there have been a lot of "John Finnegan moments" in people's lives. Whether it was a heated moment in the midst of a wave battle or just sitting silently in a car driving to a LARP, John gave all of us a moment with him, a moment that we will always treasure. I know that my John Finnegan moment may seem very silly and insignificant compared to others, but that lighthearted, prankster side of John--the side that would throw a pool toy at an unsuspecting girl's derriere--was a side that only served to make him more endearing.

I would also like to extend my deepest condolences to John's wife and to the rest of his family. I am so very sorry for your loss, and I hope that you're able to find some peace and comfort during this difficult time.
Today is Monday. A week since my life has been forever changed. I couldn't have gotten through the last few days without my family and friends around me. I couldn't have gotten through these last few days without reading this board every morning. I wish I had the words to express how truly thankful I am for all of you.

There are friends who have been calling and I just want you to know that I love that you are calling me and ask that you keep doing so. I'm just not ready to pick up yet. Yesterday I went to the grocery store with my brother and sister and when I walked outside again I said to Andrea, "I did it". I went grocery shopping just before I came home and found John and I didn't know if I'd be able to go again but I did. I wouldn't have been able to if it were not for all of you. Thank you for giving me the strength I so desperately need.

It warmed my heart to see so many who love him this weekend. It still warms my heart to read how you all feel about him. Thank you for sharing your feelings with me and his family.

It's been so long since I played a NERO game, yet it still influences me to this day, in so many good ways. If anyone here remembered me, I'd be shocked. But it's not about who I am. It's about lives that have been touched in ways you couldn't imagine up on your own.

Two weeks ago, I was at a different LARP, one that has just started a new campaign. I was speaking with another player, and I was telling them about Duke Brian and the Gold Piece Dance. Here it is, so many years hence (13?) and I still remember John shaking his *** whenever he searched a monster and got a damned gold piece. I laughed every time I saw it, and I remember Lochinvar doing it in sync with him. Who ever would have imagined that all these years later, someone who was a virtual stranger to John would be telling a story about him, a story that was totally organically recalled?

There are countless stories like that in the collective consciousness that NERO holds. Though many of us have parted ways, gone about different life endeavors, seemingly trivial moments like these stick in our minds. It goes to show that you never know what it is that you're doing that people will remember. Someone else posted:

"John Finnegan died?"
"That blows my mind."
"I'm actually sad about it and I haven't seen the man in 12+ years."

That is more true than you know. I honestly hadn't looked at the NERO Mass list in over seven years, and for some reason, I did today, and saw the posting over there.

Jennifer Hawkins
Played: Michaela, Solace Collingswood
Dearest Colleen, thank you for posting here. It is so good to hear from you. When I woke up this morning I thought the same thing you mentioned: "Today is Monday; a week has passed. Colleen will mark that this morning, too." I don't think a minute goes by that I am not thinking of you, and of Patrick & Andrea and everyone I saw again at the funeral, and those friends who were absent, too.

I haven't shared any John stories here because, frankly, I have a faulty memory so I remember emotions and sensations, rather than specific incidents. But I have always had one weird little memory that seems kind of charming, so here it is: I was NPCing one weekend at Cedarcrest and I was bothered about something (probably fretting about the Angelica plotline). John had just come back to NPC camp; he'd been playing some creature with a big rubber nose. And as we were resting before going back in game, I talked to him about my troubles. He looked at me and listened very attentively, nodding his head continuously, all the while wearing the ridiculous nose. Eventually, I wound down and so it was his turn to talk... he sat down, furrowed his brow as he formulated and structured the JTF-patented wise advice/kick in the butt/pep talk that would be appropriate for this situation, looked me square in the eye... and pulled off his nose. At the time, it seemed perfectly normal that he would make himself less ludicrous so as to deliver his wisdom with more effect, but looking back now it seems funny, and so very John-like. Plus, where else in the world but a larp can you accentuate the gravity of your point by pulling off your nose? I can't remember what he said, but I remember that he cared, and that he helped.

xo Maryan
It feels like only yesterday that Perwin was asking Dimsdale (then in his true dragon form, Terseraz) for one last pun before rifting out with Requin, never to return. The exact newsletter quote was:

As Terseraz prepared to rift out with the defeated Requin, Perwin the Baker begged the dragon for one last pun. “No more puns.” Terseraz solemnly replied. “No more ruses.” And with that he and Requin rifted out.

As silly as this sounds, John made me appreciate puns more than anyone. For the past 10 years when I hear a pun, I immediately think of John playing Dimsdale. I'd think, "Dimsdale could have done so much better." For the record, when I asked for one more pun, I recall vividly seeing a spark in John's eye, like he wanted to give one more Dimsdale pun. It was only a very brief moment, and I doubt anyone else noticed. It was like he was tempted to drop out of character, but he immediately switched back to his dragon persona and said those last words before rifting out.

On Saturday, when I was standing there looking at him for the last time, the only thing I could think to say under my breath was, "One more pun, John. Just one more."