John Michael "Johnny" Gaither
April 26, 1985 ~ April 29, 2011

John Michael Gaither, of Vancouver, WA, died in a tragic accident on April 29th, 2011, 3 days after his 26th birthday. He was born in Vancouver, WA to Del and Mary Gaither. Johnny graduated from Prairie High School, later attended Western Washington University, and earned his Associates Degree from Portland Community College.
John grew up working for the family construction business, and had recently proudly co-founded an asphalt maintenance company with his father.
Known by many nicknames, including John Boy,
Hodge, and Johnny Strong Heart,
John was absolutely, positively one of a kind.
He was loving without restraint, giving without bounds, and always, always, always protective, supportive, and encouraging. John found his purpose and contentment in loving people, and gave selflessly to friends, family, and strangers alike.
He was a master of impersonations, and his quick witted humor was both hilarious and uplifting. Ever a kid at heart, Johnny built great Lego masterpieces into his 26th year, as well as explosive devices, imaginative booby traps, and contraptions of all shapes and sizes. He shared a rare affinity and connection with children, and had a gentle and gracious way that drew them to him. He was a regular Peter Pan.
John's humor and zest for life were only rivaled by his sharp wit and incredible intellect. He was an avid reader and lover of history and military studies. He had a mind like a steel trap and the memory of an elephant. A kind of human encyclopedia, Johnny was our ultimate Jeopardy master. From little on, he was a natural actor and showman. He had a great, big, boisterous voice and loved singing along to Frank Sinatra and his favorite musical, Les Miserables.
Though he only had 26 years, Johnny lived life large, touching many with his loyalty, enthusiasm, and passionate and fierce spirit. The joy he brought to the lives of those blessed enough to know him cannot be expressed through words.
He will be forever loved and deeply missed.
John left behind his parents, Mom and Dad; sister, Sis; brother, Roo; an incredibly loving extended family; and the love of his life, Jessica.
A celebration of John's life will be held on Saturday, May 14th at 11:00 a.m. at New Heights Church, 7913 NE 58th Ave.
Rather than flowers, please send donations in John's name to Riverview Community Bank, which will later be donated to a Bosnian refugee nonprofit_ a cause important to John.
Please sign John's guest book at:
Published by The Columbian on May 8, 2011.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Sponsored by anonymous.
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59 Entries
I miss his laughter and positive attitude.
David Roberts
May 3, 2020
A fond memory and a reminder of how fragile our existence is.
Richard Hands
May 10, 2019
Del, Mary, Sis and Roo,
What Mom and Dad said about John was great. We will always treasure the times we had together with John and the family.
We love you, and we grieve and celebrate together, and then we take joy in knowing John has a new life with God.
Unc Ott & Aunt Laurie
June 9, 2011
Del,Mary, Sissy, Roo, And Gaither Family, All of you. We, Dad, Mom,/GrandPA GrandMA Are so proud of You ALL. We miss Johnny so much. He will live in our hearts FOREVER and EVER. A wonderful Grandson. Del and Mary, because you so generously shared yourselves and your family with us, we have so many treasured memories of Johnny. Thanks. We love you, Dad & Mom/Otto and Lois
Otto Gaither
June 7, 2011
Johnny, we love you always and miss you.
Grandpa & Grandma
Otto/Lois Gaither
June 7, 2011
Dear Gaither Family,
You have been in my thoughts and prayers since I received word from Otto and Lois about John's accident. So sorry for your loss. I am blessed to read his obit and know you are blessed with very special memories to cling to. May our Lord continue to bless, sustain, comfort and give you peace.
Sincerely with love and prayers,
Jonell Gaither Lewis
June 6, 2011
I keep thinking back to all the memories I have with John, and I'm so glad that I'll always have them.
I have so much love for everyone in the family, and I truly think of you all every day. I really wish I could have been at the service to give everyone a hug.
Whitney Reeder
June 5, 2011
Del and Mary,
We just returned to town and learned of John's unfortunate demise. Our heart felt condolences to both of you and your family.
Ron and Therese (Terry) Greenen
May 17, 2011
We had only met Johnny a short time before his passing; however, the beautiful tributes made by family and friends at his memorial service touched our hearts and made us wish we had only known him better. God be with you each as you look forward to that Great Reunion Day. Our deepest love and sympathy, David & Barbara Roberts
May 17, 2011
Del and Mary,
As I said at the service, I am so sorry my heart is breaking for you. I sit here on the hill and watch all the happenings at Oak haven and see you come and go doing your work, I want you to see my deck in a new light, I was recently told a meaning of the word JOY-Jesus first, others second, and "U" last, and after hearing about the man your son had become, this is exactly the way he lived his life. You really did good by him and as all parents know our children are a reflection of us, I hope my boys are at least half the man your son was. God bless you in your time of sorrow. WWJD has me thinking and rethinking the way I see the would now. God bless.
Robin, Pat, Brandon, and Hunter Kanniainen
May 15, 2011
What a great tribute to john yesterday. Jordan did such a good job. Thanks to all of your family for letting us get to know john better. your stories make all of us want to be better people and be closer like your families. thanks again.
Norm Harker
May 15, 2011
Del and family,

My heart hurts for you at this time. You are in my thoughts and prayers. It sounds like you had a remarkable son and I'm sorry I never knew him, but he'll live on in your hearts forever, forever young. My deepest sympathies.
Bobbi Steele Sturdevant
May 15, 2011
Del, Mary and Family,
My heart is so sad for your Family. I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and thinking so much about your loss.You may not remember me but I lived next door to you on Grand and always remembered your loving family and Ottos and Lauries also. Bless you all during this time. Sue Plopper
May 15, 2011
Del and Mary and family, my heart goes out to all of you! I pray for peace and healing for all and many blessings from God the great healer and the strength when we are weak! Love in Him, Ruth E Cox (Osman)
Ruth Cox
May 14, 2011
To the entire Gaither family, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We are sorry for your loss.
The Zschomler family
May 14, 2011
our thoughts and prayers are with you.
adam wenzel,terry wenzel,crystal simmons,charlene wenzel,and roger wenzel
May 14, 2011
After reading the Columbian article, I could see more clearly the cause of your grief. What a wonderful boy right at the prime of his life. Our hearts go out to you. Dave and Helen Emery
May 13, 2011
Del and Mary,
You both are such loving awesome parents. This season of time is as hard as it gets, so we pray you can hang on to that love,for each other and for your family, and let His love be the lifter of your head. We will not stop praying for all of you.
Warmly in Christ,
Carl and Arlene Nicosia
May 13, 2011
Dear Del and Mary, We know only a little of what you are going through right now. We are so sorry as you grieve for John. We pray God loving arms around you.
Al and Ann Penner
May 13, 2011
So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are for your family right now as you grief.
Larson Michael
May 13, 2011
I didn't have the privilege to know John personally, but knew him through the proud grandparental eyes of Otto and Lois. From the numerous and lovely postings and tributes written, I have a deeper sense of what a delightful young man he was and the impact and influence he had in so many ways on so many lives. As his spirit lives on, love and blessings to the entire Gaither family as you hold his memory and each other close.
Esther Davis
May 13, 2011
Reading through all of the wonderful memories of Johnny makes me wish I had known him better. The huge smile on his face in the picture shows his love of life and enjoyment of every moment. Del, Mary, Sarah and Andrew, you are in our prayers.
Robyn Heerlein
May 12, 2011
Del and Mary,
I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. My heart goes out to you. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Jo Ann Toedtli
May 12, 2011
Del,Mary and Family, There are no words to express how sorry we are for your loss of such a wonderful, man and a son. You are in my thoughts and prayers." Almira, Haris and Elvir
Elvir Mujic
May 12, 2011
Del and Mary: We are so sorry for the loss of your son. Having not met John but knowing his parents and reading the tributes: I missed meeting a Jewel! Patti and I extend our very best to the both of you. This may be our loss but God has gained a Great Smile and Person. Our prayers will be with the both of you.

Jim and Patti Johnson
May 12, 2011
Dearest Del, Mary Rose, Tante Coby, Sis and Andrew:
You are in my prayers every day - and more especially this Saturday. My heart aches for you. John is with God and in a good place. I wish you strength.
With my love always and big hugs.
Nanette Snel
May 12, 2011
Dear Mary,Dell and entire Gaither Family,
Our Love and Prayers for each of you.
We are saddened by your precious loss
Chester and Donna Meeks
Donna Meeks
May 12, 2011
Del & Mary,
Words cannot be written to descibe how sorry we are to hear about your loss of John. He was one of those special individuals that you only meet all not to often.Thanks to your love and caring home.He was blessed to have you two as his parents and you were blessed to have him as your son. Whenever I would come to the job site and John was there, he would always have that great smile and would extent his hand to greet you. He was always an inspiration to me. I receantly heard a quote from Dr. Seuss that helped me through a loss of a loved one and it goes "Let us not cry for what we have lost, but smile for what we have had" when I think of John, I will always smile.
All of our best wishes.
Matt & Tara Haldeman
May 12, 2011
Del,Mary and Family,
There are no words to express my sorrow for your loss of such a wonderful, man, son, and brother. Your in my thoughts and prayers.
Tamie (Steel) Cody
May 12, 2011
Oh Johnny boy. Thank you for 26 years of the biggest laughs and the sweetest love. What an honor to be your auntie. D, Mar, Sis and Roo, I love you so much and am praying for you. xoxoxo
Laurie Gaither
May 11, 2011
My deepest sympathy to his family and close friends. I am thankful I had the pleasure of meeting John.

God Bless
Janet Seekins
May 11, 2011
Del and Mary, I love you deeply and dearly. It has been a priviledge to come alongside of you in prayer during this time of loss. You both have such a spirit of joy and faithfulness. I am blessed to have childhood friends where the ground between us is sacred. I love our rich history. I am with you in spirit and in prayer. I love your whole family-- in fact, I feel like one of you. You both are a God-kept wonder.

Lori Salierno
Lori Salierno
May 11, 2011
Dear Del and Mary,

I very much enjoyed meeting John and working with him on desiging a few things. I saw the sparkle in his eyes, his excitement. He was kind, encouraging, very sweet. I was shocked to find out about John. I'm so sorry for your loss. My little brother, Randy Shaver, passed away on the 3rd at 29. Young lives that touched many. I don't understand. It breaks my heart. I send you hugs and prayers.

Andi Schwartz (The Reflector)
Andi Schwartz
May 11, 2011
Thinking of you. We are so very sorry for your loss.
Garlan & Jill Miller
May 11, 2011
Lois Gaither
May 10, 2011
Del and Mary, so very sorry for the loss of your son john. I am an old friend of Otto and Lois. Please offer them my sympathy. i just wanted you to know my prayers and thoughts are with you all. Sincerely, Eloyse Erickson
Eloyse Erickson
May 10, 2011
Dear Del and Mary
That the Lord give you peace and comfort you are constantly in our prayers this loss was a big one but you can be sure JOHNNY is looking down on us and blessing us all so let's let him continue his spiritual journey wich will surely be magnificent because he has a lot give still.
God bless you all.
Uncle Bob an Tia Cenilda
Robert Snel
May 10, 2011
Del and Mary, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I didn't know John but the write up about him made me feel I did. The world is less bright without him. LeAnne Bremer
May 10, 2011
Del and Mary, Our love and prayers are with you. We are so sorry for your loss and may God bring you peace and comfort. John sounds alot like you Del in your humor and caring heart in high school. Ed & Judy Sessions
May 10, 2011
John touched so many lives and made such a big impact on the people he knew, that his ripple effect will last lifetimes. He will never be forgotten, and always be guiding us through... Godspeed brother.
Josh Stricker
May 9, 2011
Ralph H Rowe
Ralph Rowe
May 9, 2011
Del and Mary..we have all been touched one way or another by your family. We are sorry for your loss and will be praying for you. John has obviosly touched many people and will be sadly missed.

The Prelle Family
May 9, 2011
Del and Mary. Our thoughts and our Prayers are with you and your family. We are so sorry to hear about your loss. May God bring you peace and comfort during this time of sorrow. John and Lynda Idsinga
May 9, 2011
Del & Mary;
I have sent a request upstairs to Jim, He will introduce himself to John, so they may become friends as our families were.

Know that you are both loved and I am wrapping my arms around you both.
Sharon Wodtke
May 9, 2011
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Jerry Schmaltz
May 9, 2011
To the Gaither family;
I'm so sorry to hear about John. We went to high school together and he always made school & track practice fun and light hearted. He will be deaply missed, he touched so many hearts and lives of everyone he was around. I'm so greatful that I had the opportunity in life to be blessed with his warm, cheerful smile and spirit.
Whitney (Bone) Richards
May 9, 2011
Some people you remember even when you know them a little. John is one of those people.
Richard Hands
May 9, 2011
To the Gaither family. Johnny was a joy to life.for the time I did know him he was a great guy.Sorry for your loss.
Kenneth Hayes
May 9, 2011
Del & Mary, Sara and Andrew,
You are like a second family for my son and will continue to be his family and ours. We all miss Johnny so much, I am so sorry for your (our) loss.
Love Dan & Terri Taylor
May 9, 2011
Dear Del & Mary & Family,
so sorry; wish I could find words that would ease your broken hearts. Please know that we are holding you up in prayer, and will continue to do so.
-Michael & Tori Rochleau-Rice
May 9, 2011
Del & Mary and family,
So very sorry for your loss. John was a good guy. Praying for God's comfort...
Gaylene Horch
May 9, 2011
Del and Mary, I was so sorry to hear about Johnny. I hold you in my prayers,
Suzanne (Larson) Kiehn
May 9, 2011
Del, Mary and family,
Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss. We will keep you in our prayers. What a blessing it is to have the Savior as your companion through this difficult time.
The Harkers
The Harkers
May 9, 2011
Del, Mary and family,
My heart is open to you and my prayers are with you. We all love you. Your family will always be there for you now and always.
Jodi Gaither-Pentecost
May 8, 2011
Del,Mary and Family, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
Brenda (Manor)Hofman
May 8, 2011
Del and Mary,
There are no words that I can say to ease your pain for he loss of Johnny. I am truly sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.
Cathy Williams
May 8, 2011
Del and Mary, we are so sorry for the loss of your wonderful son, John. Our hearts ache for you . . . we will keep you and your family in our prayers.

Rick and Jeri Kemmer
Rick & Jeri Kemmer
May 8, 2011
Dearest Mary (my Brazilian sister) and Del. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I only met Johnny when he was a little boy, and he was so incredibly sweet then. My heart aches for you and please know that I love you very much. Love kelly
kelly arnold
May 8, 2011
This is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful young man. You are right, words cannot espress all the fullness he brought into this world and our lives. He was truely "one of a kind". I loved him, and will miss him greatly.
Uncle Ott
May 8, 2011
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