John S. Preston, Jr., 77, passed away unexpectedly on April 26, 2018. He had been married to his high school sweetheart Faith from Newington, CT for 56 years and they had two children, David and Diana.
While attending Union College in Schenectady, NY, John discovered a lifelong love for computers. They were a learning tool, gave him focus, and enabled him to innovate and implement systems. He also made many friends as a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity. After graduating in 1962, he joined the U.S. Air Force and trained fellow officers in data automation, computer programming, and systems processing. During his service in Wichita Falls, TX, he welcomed his son and daughter to the family and was promoted to Captain.
John was ahead of his time with information technology and attributed much of his success to it. When the family moved back to CT, he worked with mainframe computers and other advanced technology and management reporting systems for Travelers Insurance and Covenant Insurance Company. He earned a Master of Science in Insurance from the University of Hartford in 1983 and transitioned to management, accounting, investments, and financial planning at Covenant. He later became Chief Financial Officer for New London County Mutual Insurance.
John consistently encouraged education and learning at home and in the community. He had many hobbies and shared his interests not only in technology and finance but also nature, wildlife, gardening, woodworking, photography, sailing, boating, skiing, travel, racquetball, antique clocks, historic preservation, and watching professional football and UConn Huskies women’s basketball.
Family, community, history, and tradition were extremely important to John. He not only supported historic preservation but also lived it by taking meticulous care in updating and maintaining the family’s colonial home built in 1795 on Main Street in Glastonbury, CT. When his children were growing up, he served as a Youth Fellowship Advisor for First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury and did everything from fostering friendships and religious education to skiing to driving the bus. He also made sure his children experienced the joys and formative experiences he had growing up at YMCA Camp Becket (and sister camp Chimney Corners) in the Berkshires of western MA and family vacations to Maine and Cape Cod, MA.
John was an avid reader and liked to talk about developments in the community, nation, and world. He also liked to experience the world by traveling, including memorable family camping trips in New England and Eastern Canada, vacations with friends from the Air Force, and a month-long journey to Australia and New Zealand.
People saw him as laid back and easygoing. He was. He had a goofy sense of humor and particularly liked puns. He loved dogs and birds, relaxing in nature, and spending time with family and friends. He was curious, loyal, and always ready to lend a helping hand.
He was also determined to make meaningful contributions. He did so quietly, steadily, and methodically. He was analytical and at his best when problem solving. When no one was really paying attention, he consistently got the job done no matter how big or small. He was proud of his ability to do everything from being handyman to financial expert. He was reserved and a somewhat reluctant leader, but he had integrity, commanded respect, and sought out responsibility so people appreciated his leadership and followed. His accomplishments were numerous and all he really wanted was acknowledgement and a thank you.
John was passionate about wildlife and the environment. He encouraged resource and energy conservation and helped spearhead the effort to install solar energy at his church and then his home. He served for many years as Chair of the Regional Advisory Board of the Connecticut Audubon Society at Glastonbury, CT; Board and Finance Committee Member for the statewide Connecticut Audubon Society; and Board Member of the Town of Harwich, MA Real Estate and Open Space Committee. He also volunteered for the Harwich Conservation Trust; Harwich Ponds Water Quality Monitoring Program; The Treasure Chest; and Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary.
Throughout his life, John was an active community leader. He served as a Deacon and Financial Trustee for First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury; President of the Board of neighborhood improvement association Asylum Hill, Inc. in Hartford, CT; Treasurer for Welles Turner Memorial Library Second Century Fund in Glastonbury; Treasurer for Families in Crisis in Hartford; Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Christian Activities Council in Hartford; and Treasurer of the Capitol Region Library Council in Windsor, CT.
After retiring to Harwich, MA, John really enjoyed having family and friends visit. Regular visitors included his sister-in-law and husband, nephews and niece and their families, daughter, and friends from Glastonbury. His son lives on the Cape, so he was very close to his grandson when he was growing up. His sister and her husband moved to the Cape full time years ago and he liked having them nearby.
He also continued to seek out physical and intellectual challenges. He liked kayaking and relaxing at the beach, sailing, reading and book club discussions, movies and music, designing and building a new home, and exploring the Cape. He continued to volunteer for numerous organizations, including Nauset Neighbors. He became a Deacon and Treasurer for Pilgrim Congregational Church in Harwich Port, MA.
John touched many lives and will be dearly missed by his wife, children, friends, former colleagues, sister Jan Crabtee and her husband Chet; sister-in-law Judy Reichenbach and her husband Marty; niece and nephews Kurt and Carl Reichenbach, Scott Crabtree, Kristen Crabtree Roath and their families; and grandson Zach Preston.
A memorial service will be held on May 19, 2018 at 11:00 am in Pilgrim Congregational Church, 533 MA-28, Harwich Port, MA 02646.
Memorial donations may be made to:
First Church of Christ Congregational, 2183 Main St., Glastonbury, CT 06033;
Pilgrim Congregational Church, P.O. Box 247, Harwich Port, MA 02646;
Connecticut Audubon Society at Glastonbury, CT, 1361 Main St., Glastonbury, CT 06033; or at https://www.ctaudubon.org/donate-memorial-or-tribute-gifts
Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, P.O. Box 235, Cummaquid, MA 02637 or online at https://secure2.convio.net/mas/site/Donation2?df_id=3960&3960.donation=form1&set.SingleDesignee=1341&to_sanctuary_name=Donate%20to%20Long%20Pasture