Bob Lind, Published November 08 2012
Neighbors: ‘Johnny’ found success in life by helping others
John was a young guy who turned his life around. He went from the so-called “highs” of drugs to the emotional highs of knowing he was helping many people.
John was the son of Carol and his stepfather Lew Lindeman; his biological father, Walter Unterseher, and his mother were divorced.
The Lindemans lived in Casselton, N.D., and then moved to West Fargo.
Even as a child, his mother says, “Johnny (who was born in 1965) had a love of life and people. He showed the utmost respect for his elders, and people were always drawn to him because of his kindness and caring.”
Carol says he had a way of “filling people’s hearts with love, laughter and happiness.”
John attended West Fargo schools, but as a teen, he got into drugs. His future, once so promising, now looked grim.
But some way, some how, John realized there was a better way. So, on his own, he joined Narcotics Anonymous.
He was 18.
Others came first
John “took his recovery very seriously,” his mother writes, and he was determined to help others, too. “From the start,” she says, “he was talking to other kids in trouble, visiting people, involved with DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).” When applying for a job, he’d make sure he could get time off to attend recovery sessions; if not, he’d turn down the job.
Carrying the message of recovery became his passion in life. “If anyone would call or drop by, he would drop what he was doing to listen or talk,” Carol says. “He had a gift of knowing what to do; if you just needed him to just sit with you quietly; if you just needed a hug, to say ‘everything is gonna be all right,’ that’s what he’d do.
“He touched lives around the world and enriched all he came in contact with,” Carol says. “He made the world a better place.”
Gaining a family
John earned a GED with honors in 1985. He started college but was unable to continue because he was injured when he was hit while riding his motorcycle.
In 1996 he gained a wife, Cora Sue, and two step-daughters. The family moved to Arizona in 2000, settling in Golden Valley.
John worked several jobs: owning a disc jockey business, delivering newspapers, owning a coffee shop, working in a casino. He and Cora Sue became grandparents. All was going beautifully.
Then one day in 2009, John attended a meeting in Phoenix. As he walked out of a gas station carrying his coffee cup, a holdup man shot him. He died on the spot.
This is real success
“A lot of people measure success by money and stuff,” John’s mother says. “But Jesus says, ‘The greatest thing anyone can do is love God and each other.’
“I think John was very successful. He may have died, but his love is stamped on the hearts of every life he touched.”
At John’s funeral in Arizona and the memorial service in West Fargo, many people came up to Carol to thank her for John, telling her their son or daughter wouldn’t be alive today but for John and his impact on them.
To this, Carol can only say, “I’m sure John would want everyone he touched to ‘Pay it forward.’ ”
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