Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30, 2002: worst day of my life

Logan – Our beloved son, brother, grandson and friend, John Patrick Nolan, died unexpectedly on Monday, September 30, 2002, from natural causes. He was the fourth child and oldest son of Patrick and Renee Nolan. He was born April 18, 1980.

John was an amazing young man, who accomplished much in his short life. He graduated from Logan High in 1998, and from USU in Computational Math and Computer Science in 1999. John thoroughly enjoyed dancing with the USU Ballroom Dance Team and playing his viola and guitar. His Masters Degree in Instructional Technology at Utah State will be awarded posthumously. John was a faithful servant of his Father in Heaven. He served an LDS mission to Fresno, California and until recently served as the Elders Quorum secretary of the Summit Creek Young Single Adult Ward.

There never was a man more polite, thoughtful, kind and loving as John; he was always serving others. John possessed a great peaceable, abiding spirit. He never raised his voice or spoke unkindly of another human being. He was our hero. We all looked up to him. He will be greatly missed and always fondly remembered.

John is survived by his parents, sisters: Rachael, Rebecca, Mary and Sarah and his brother David, currently serving an LDS mission in Everett, Washington. Also: granny, Betty Henderson and grandmother, Loya Nolan. He will also be missed by his long time true friends: Richard, Sean and Dan.

Above was the obituary that ran in the paper six years ago.

Next is John's testimony, in his own words.

A statement of belief is more powerful than one of knowledge because it cannot be contradicted and it demands no proof. Therefore, I make here a statement of what I have willfully chosen to believe, often in spite of its popularity among men. I offer no evidence of my belief, only the example of my own life and how I have affected the lives of others.

I believe in the sanctity of life and in its value as a learning experience. I have no less literally spiritual parents than physical ones; I am the offspring of God, and as such I have a limitless potential of my own. I believe my performance in this life will not be judged against some cosmic rubric, but rather how I reacted to what I was given. I also believe the very act of choosing to believe that which I know not of a surety but is true makes those beliefs a reality to me.

I believe my interaction with other people defines who I am. I believe every individual has his or her own unique theology, and that I can learn something from each of these perspectives and incorporate it into my own. Who I have become internally may be in part a product of my external environment, but it also shapes the way I perceive the world around me.

Finally, I believe I have the authority to act in the name of God and that this authority was restored to the Earth in modern times through Joseph Smith. Jesus is the Christ. This book contains a true account, and was translated under divine inspiration. Let it be known to all the world that I believe these things are true.

-John Patrick Nolan

The following is an article that ran in the Herald Journal

Goodbye to a bright star 10/06/02 Arrin Brunson

It’s been dark and dreary in Cache Valley all week. The sun still comes up every morning like it always has, but it is shining somewhere else. The same is true for John Patrick Nolan, who died Monday after a short life of only 22 years. During his lifetime John’s mother, Renee Nolan, retooled the words to the well-known song, “You are my sunshine” and often told her first son, “You are my son. Shine.” I don’t know much about the details of John’s passing, except that he died of natural causes. I do know many of the details of John’s life and am dedicating this news space to him today because his extraordinary experience demands it and, because after days of trying, I still can’t write about anything else. John did shine, and his parents, siblings, extended family and friends are comforted by the belief that he is shining in a better place now, after living a life above reproach. He accomplished more in his short life than many of us will in a long lifetime. Like many of the people I interview and write about, John first touched my life as I worked on a news story about his remarkable gifts, talents and efforts back in May 1999. John learned to read when he was two years old and began writing DOS computer programs when he was in third grade. Using his chart-topping IQ, Nolan began his college education at age 15 with advanced placement classes at Logan High School and the concurrent enrollment program at USU. He earned about 40 college credits during his sophomore year of high school and convinced school officials to let him go to USU full time as a junior. John continued his concurrent studies and graduated from Logan High School while carrying a full schedule of challenging courses at the university year-round. Though a scholarship paid for John’s tuition, he bought his books and paid the other expenses by working as a dishwasher at Logan Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. John was only 19 years and 9 days old when he graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in computational mathematics. He served an LDS mission and returned to USU to earn a master’s degree, which will be awarded posthumously at graduation ceremonies in May. I’ve been told that John was headed for Stanford next year to earn his doctorate. He was a talented musician and traveled internationally playing the viola with a string quartet. He was a member of USU’s ballroom dance club and did much more than dance in this organization. He served in whatever capacity was needed, and enjoyed doing so. Although John’s genius and hard work gave him unlimited potential, in my opinion these were not his greatest qualities. I got to know him better when he returned from his mission and took a job as the Herald Journal’s webmaster at age 21, where he worked until the time he began his master’s degree. We sat across from each other and soon became friends. John’s level of intellectual functioning was planes above most of the people he met, but he never had any airs about him. He was a know-it-all who never acted like one. Physically, John was a big man, taller than most. He was polite and well mannered. He was kind. He worked the long and unusual hours the job required without complaint. I never knew until his passing that John suffered from unexplainable and debilitating migraine headaches. Amid the chaos that sometimes happens in a newsroom, seated amidst reporters, sportswriters and editors, John was a calming influence. He was easy to trust and therefore, easy to confide in. He was never judgmental and I never heard him say anything mean or negative about anyone. Outside of this job, John had close friendships with his elementary school pals who eventually became his college roommates. He was very gracious when presented with a birthday present last year — a camp chair to furnish that meager dwelling. John also enjoyed good relationships with his supportive, close-knit family members. There was never doubt about his religious convictions. This young man didn’t have to die for those who knew him to recognize his greatness. The more we knew of him, the more we knew he was exceptional. I always thought he would make a great husband and father and regret he won’t have the chance to experience these wonders of life. Although it is human nature to immortalize our loved ones after death, the good qualities attributed to John Nolan this week have not been exaggerated. One can only imagine the contributions John might’ve made had he lived longer. He did contribute much while he was here, though, and his passing is the world’s loss. Those fortunate enough to have known him were better for it and we will miss him.

I miss you John.


Joni said...

Becca- What a beautiful tribute to your brother, he was obviously one of those rare gems that figure out the true meaning of life long before everyone else. I remember going to his viewing/funeral and thinking what an amazing man he was for being so young. How lucky you were to be a part of his life and how lucky he was to have you for a sister.

Unknown said...

Becca, thank you for posting all of that. I am so glad you did so. Love you.

Peggy said...

Wow--I can't believe it's been 6 years! This was lovely, Becca.

Rachael said...

Thank you Becca...

Kate said...

Rebecca, I remember this well. The Christmas after John died, you gave me a beautiful, red, heart-shaped ornament for my Christmas tree in memory of your brother. I still hang it on my tree every year and think of you and John. Many hugs to you.

mommynolan said...

Thank you for making sure John is not forgotten. May these tributes live forever in cyberspace as they surely will in our hearts. Mom

Ashlee said...

I remember you talking about John to me at Convergys. Reading this was so fun to get to know him a little better. What an amazing person. Do you still have "John," moments? My mom has been gone for 4 years now and sometimes it is still SO fresh. Anyway this was a beautiful post. Thanks!

skipper said...

This was a beautiful post. I never knew all those things about your brother. Thank you for sharing!