John was born and raised in Quincy, IL and attended St. James Lutheran Grade School; Quincy Junior High School, Quincy Senior High School; Valparaiso (IN) University; and the University of Illinois Law School. Growing up John was a Deckhand on “Quinsippi Queen”, a 50 passenger excursion boat on the Mississippi river operated by the Quincy Park District. He studied for and applied for a riverboat captain license but his uncorrected eyesight disqualified him (had he gotten the license, he probably would not have gone to college or law school). John opened his Law practice on 12/26/82 upstairs in the Naples Federal branch in Bonita Springs (now City Hall!), he is most proud of being one of 439 Florida Board Certified Real Estate attorneys by the Florida Bar out of over 90,000 active attorneys, representing sellers and buyers of real estate (noting, all sellers want is their money and no “come backs” like lawsuits, claims and all buyers want is what they paid for and no surprises. The highest compliments his clients haved made are that “that was the easiest, most hassle-free transaction I have ever been involved in.” As recently this week, I received a complaint about the size of my bill; the client wanted to triple it (and John said “yes”)!
John served as Club President in 1988-1989. He was 33 years old, and the club was much younger then, mostly in 30s-50s (Even Rex!) and had about 45 members. RI started Polio Plus that year. John Mathes, Steve Kaskie and John were summoned to the District Governor’s home in Cape Coral for dinner and were given the goal of raising $25,000 for Polio Plus. The three were stunned and had no idea how to do it but we ended up exceeding the goal by 10-15%, and over 20 years later the mission of Polio Plus has finally been almost completely realized. (Editor’s note: Bill Gates just indicated at last week’s RI convention that eliminating the final 1% of Polio cases and permanently eradicating the disease is now his personal and his foundation’s #1 goal). John also presided over the first year of the Christmas Tree project in 1988, raising between $250,000-$400,000 over 23 years. Bob Brown, Harv Humphrey and Jacob Hammerle fronted the seed money the first year to buy the inventory. The last decision John had the board of directors make was to institute the practice of sending the incoming President to the RI International Convention. John was the last President to go at his own expense and went during the year he was President rather than the year before.