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  • John Witcher Young

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  • John Witcher Young, passed away January 5, 2013, at the age of 95 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. Earlier that day, the family had held funeral services for his dear wife of 70 years, Janice H. Young. John and Janice were only separated six days by death and now are together for eternity. There will be a viewing for them both at Conger-Morris Funeral Home, 767 S. Riverside, Medford, Thursday, January 10, 2013, 9:30 a.m. with an 11:00 a.m. burial service following at Eagle Point National Cemetery.
    John Young was born in San Angelo, Texas in the summer of 1917 as the eighth of nine siblings. He is survived by his youngest sister, Dorothy Wellborne, of Houston, Texas; and his two daughters, J. Carolyn Blair, of San Ramon, Calif. and Dana Lazzareschi, of Medford. He has two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. John's niece, Mary Jo Moos, is a resident of Myrtle Creek, Ore. His life exemplified what is called the "Greatest Generation." His childhood witnessed the beginning of the explosion of technology, his youth endured the Great Depression, and his early manhood World War II.
    John was influenced by the spiritual faith of his mother at an early age and carried this spirituality into all of his endeavors.
    John and Janice met through their church while they were students at the University of Texas. John was the first graduate of the UT drama department in 1939. He also composed a song about the "Clock on the Varsity Tower" which still exists in the school archives. John enlisted in the Army Signal Corps prior to the outbreak of World War II, and he and Janice were married in 1942, shortly before he was deployed overseas.
    After serving in both the European and Pacific theaters, John finally began his married life with Janice in earnest in 1945. He completed his master's degree in drama at Carnegie-Melon University and secured a position as Director of Drama with Texas Women's College in Denton, Texas. They lived there for four years and welcomed into the world their first child, Janice Carolyn, followed a few years later by another daughter, Dana Gayle. Around that time, John began filling in for local ministers when they were out of town and soon felt the calling of God into a different line of work!
    From 1949 until 1988, John Young served as the primary minister in 11 Churches of Christ from Tennessee to California. He established off-campus Bible study programs at local colleges in cities where he served. With his background in public speaking, he was able to guide many other men to preach the Gospel as well. In 1968, under the auspices of the Central Church of Christ in Stockton, Calif., John established a preacher training program in Ethiopia that continues to train ministers today.
    Inspired by seeing a performance of Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain" in the 1960s, John envisioned putting his own dramatic and playwright skills together with his desire to bring the word of God to everyone in a fresh, meaningful way. Beginning in 1970, John brought the Apostle Paul to life through drama in a costumed presentation by memorizing and editing the words of the apostle himself. For the next 27 years he and Janice took this presentation of Paul (later adding the characters of King Solomon, Peter, and John on Patmos) throughout the United States and into many foreign lands. As his eyesight began to fail in his 80s and he began to experience some of the early signs of Parkinson's disease, John found it necessary to retire from active ministry. He and Janice moved here to Oregon in 2006 where their youngest daughter, Dana, with her husband, Nick Lazzareschi, provided an in-law apartment within their home to care for them.
    We have been blessed that John wrote many of his thoughts and stories down in his autobiography. On the eve of their 59th wedding anniversary, he wrote about Janice: "Our love has never been sweeter nor devotion stronger than it is now. Of the important things I have done in my life, this stands out as the most important to me. Now that her hair has turned to silver, she is a real beauty. She had endured partial deafness since the day we married, but her eyes still sparkle."
    John was counselor, friend, and pastor to all those who sought spiritual guidance. In the last postscript of his autobiography, he concludes: "Eighty-three years has taught me that it is not important how many people love me as that I still love everybody. I will not be judged by how many people love me as how much I have loved others."
    John, beloved of God, you have finished strong as His power has been perfected in your weakness. We are confident of your hearing our Savior say, "Well done, good & faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord."
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