Cover photo for John G Witesman's Obituary
John G Witesman Profile Photo
1942 John 2016

John G Witesman

July 1, 1942 — August 11, 2016

It was a sad day, when we learned of the unexpected passing of John Witesman. Our grief runs deep within our small immediate family, and also within our extended Norwegian family. His widow Kay, in whom he had found his soul mate survives him. For the last 21 years they were the perfect couple. They enjoyed traveling, watching movies, and just being together. They were enjoying life in retirement. John's surviving family members whom he greatly loved are, son Brian of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, daughter Kirsten (Chris) of Davis, Angela Priest of Rocklin and Jason Priest of Nipomo and his daughter Natalie. John is also survived by his brothers Richard (Mary) of Cardiff, and Mike (Jane) of Redding. While this is certainly a difficult time for us all, it is somewhat comforting that John passed in his sleep with Kay by his side. They had been relaxing and enjoying the mountain air at their second home at Lake Almanor. We are also sure that John's faithful "Cat Companions" Daytona and Bristol, both named after two of John's favorite NASCAR tracks, miss their big guy. Rest assured furry boys, your Daddy has joined your brothers, Mackenzie and Taco, in heaven.

John was born in Madera California in 1942 to Gilbert and Marian Witesman. John was the oldest of Gilbert and Marian's three boys. The family lived in Chowchilla until they moved to Susanville in 1951. In Susanville he became intimately familiar with the operation of a snow shovel during the 1952 record snow fall. The family loved camping and fishing during the summers at Weber Lake, Silver Lake and the north coast. This tradition of love for the outdoors continued as John's parents took Brian and Kirsten camping at Blue Lake where John would frequently join them. Both of John's children still have a great appreciation for the outdoors.

In 1960 John graduated from Lassen High School in Susanville where he lettered in track and basketball. In 1958 John had a unique opportunity for a 16 year old. Because of his Norwegian family, John spent the summer as a crewman on a Norwegian freighter and visited ports around the Pacific. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the Marianas and Taiwan were the ports visited by the young John Witesman.

After high school, John entered the US Army where he trained in field artillery in Oklahoma. He was later deployed to Germany. While there, he toured Europe and visited his mother's family in Norway. He was honorably discharged and returned to Susanville, where he would begin his career in the fire service.

In 1965 he married Karen Crump and they eventually had two children, Kirsten and Brian. He worked with CDF (Cal Fire) as a Forest Fire Truck Driver and was later promoted to Fire Captain. He continued to work in the fire service through the 1970's from both Sacramento and Chico. During John's years as a Fire Captain for CDF he was a true mentor to many young firefighters in Northern California. Many of those who started their fire service career under John's tutelage learned to work hard and became very successful with long careers.

In 1974 John and Karen divorced and he moved to Chico to return to college. While living in Chico he met and married Dianne Horton in November 1976 and became a stepfather. John left CDF (Cal Fire) in 1977. In the late 70's he and Diane divorced and he returned to Sacramento.

In Sacramento, John went into business as a founding partner of the auto parts and dismantling company Autogator Inc. He worked for many years helping his good friend and partner Ron Dumas build the business to what it is today. Since the early 1980's, John spent his time helping to run the business. He met and made many friends along the way. In 2009 he retired from Autogator but continued to stop by and share his friendly smile and positive outlook on life with all.

In 1995 John was introduced to Kay Priest. It didn't take long for John and Kay to fall in love and start the next chapter of their life. In 2004 John and Kay married which added to his family a daughter Angela Priest, a son Jason Priest and a granddaughter Natalie. With Kay came a house at Lake Almanor where they would spend time over long weekends and Thanksgiving. Because of Lake Almanor John developed an interest in boats. Kay initially owned a small fishing boat. This was exchanged for 2 matching wave runners followed by a 20' Cobalt ski boat and finally to a 17' Tracker fishing boat with a 115 horsepower Mercury outboard. When John and Kay retired they were free to spend more time at the lake.

Throughout his life John was devoted to his pets. His first special pet was Adolph (Coors), a small terrier mix who loved riding in the fire truck. Brian and Kirsten adored Adolph. John's Sacramento companions were Schroder a Terrier mix, Magic a black Labrador followed by Cinnamon, a rescued Lab/Boxer mix who lived to be thirteen. When Kay met John she knew he was a wonderful man because of his love and care of his dog. After he and Kay got together John went over to the 'dark side'. Mackenzie the Maine Coon stole John's heart and he soon became a cat lover. Taco, Daytona and Bristol were later additions to the family.

From his early days John loved auto racing. He was a dirt track auto racer in Susanville and an avid NASCAR fan holding season tickets to Phoenix International Raceway for more than 20 years. John and Kay with his brothers attended NASCAR races on a regular basis. In 2008 John and Kay attended the 50th anniversary race of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida. John and Kay traveled the United States and Canada. Their home was always open to family and friends, especially for holidays.

John was very proud of his children and loved them deeply and he thoroughly enjoyed his time with them. John was the friendly, caring, calm, stable, sensitive, and best organized one in the family. He had a wonderful sense of humor that he shared with many. He was also good with money and figures which he showed in business. He got most or all of those traits from his mother Marian. He was true to his Norse heritage with the graying red beard of a Viking and strength of mind to complete what he set out to do in a well thought out manner. Truly our 'Rock and Strength' when one needed support or was dealing with one of life's challenges. Always caring for what was going on with the family he was a respectful and protective person. He loved us and shared that love with those he held close. He was loved in return by all of us and his extended family. Truly a wonderful person, John maintained contact and checked in regularly with friends and family to be sure we were all doing well.

God bless you John and thank you for all the support and the joy you brought to us all. Rest in Peace John Gilbert Witesman. Your loving family
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Starts at 2:00 pm

Heritage Oaks Memorial Chapel

6920 Destiny Dr, Rocklin, CA 95677

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