John Guinan: 1952 to 2008

John Guinan died last night after a long, and extraordinarily brave fight with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife Mary Jane, children Sean, Kelly and Casey, granddaughter Zoe, his siblings Margaret, Christine and Jimmy and his father Jim.

Your notes and calls to John over the past 18 months have meant more than you'll ever know. Rarely does someone hear such widespread affection from so many corners of the world. He deserved all of the love but took none of it for granted. And he changed many lives, my own included, in big and small ways.

The family will hold a wake from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday:
Clinton Funeral Home
21 Parrott Street
Cold Spring, NY 10516
(845) 265-3333

John's funeral will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday:
Our Lady of Loretto
24 Fair Street
Cold Spring, NY 10516
(845) 265-3781

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Braking the Cycle and Team Guinan. This link will take you directly to Team Guinan's donation page, or type in:

(You can read more about Team Guinan in these posts)

If you have messages and memories for everyone who loved John, you can leave them as a comment at the end of this blog post.

Cards and notes for the family may be mailed to:

7 Pulaski Road Fishkill, NY 12524


Anonymous said…
I just heard of John's passing from Margaret. John was a great person and I remember him back in the 70's when we all used to go camping. My prayers and thoughts are with them all.
Patti Anderson
Anonymous said…
As a member of John's Braking the cycle "family", I feel like we've lost our big brother or uncle. The ride won't be the same without him this year.

My condolences to the Guinan family, and to all of those who knew and loved him. He will be sorely missed.
Anonymous said…
- I saw a note someplace from Wendy that John was either
"the best man" or "strongest man" that she knew. After recovering from
the shock that I wasn't, I stopped and analyzed the comment and saw
how she or anyone could feel that way -- John was, in my few years
experience with him a gentle rock -- Soft-spoken, yet you always knew
that there was strength and toughness there. The strength was
certainly shown through his four cancer operations -- every time I saw
him and we talked about the experiences -- and we was very open and we
talked a number of times about it, including well over an hour the
night of "the Last Irish Night", he was very stoical, saying things
like "I do what I have to do -- I can't do any more -- but I do all I
can." (his resolve reminds me of what a good friend in Florida has
told me about her continuing fight with cancer, "I won't go easy"). I
saw John again on the last real day of Guinan's -- and expected to see
him again.

I'm very happy that he lived to your wedding date -- and sorry that he won't
see Kelly's.

My life was better for knowing John .. and having such discussions.

Thank you, John (and thank you, Wendy)

John F. McMullen
M@ said…
I just heard about John's passing, please accept my heartfelt condolences. I knew John from the rides I started doing in 2000, always trying to gauge my progress by how fast Mustache Guy and Hawaiian Shirt Guy - John and Buck - were going.

John is a part of my fondest memories of all of the rides I participated in, and he will always be in my heart, not just on the rides.

The great thing about John is that even tho he won't be riding this year, he'll still be riding in the hearts of all of us when we ride from Gettysburg this September.

You are in all of our hearts.
Anonymous said…
We’re all in shock. John was a force of nature. He faced brain cancer the same way he faced all of the challenges of his life: with courage and strength. He inspired us in sickness exactly as he had in health, by persevering, by keeping at it, by simply pushing the obstacles aside... In short, by being John. I’ll miss his quiet humor, his love of life, and of course, I’ll miss his presence on the ride.

The Guinan family has asked that donations be made to the AIDS Ride, Braking the Cycle, in John's memory. You can do so at:

Lots of love from Blake, Steve and me.

Anonymous said…
My brother called me this morning, I am in Sunnyvale CA, and told me the sad news that our dear Friend John had passed away last night.

I grew up going to the bar with my brother John and love John and the Guinan's as family.

I met John through my brother but will always remember working for John when I was 19; we developed our own friendship.

I can honestly say that I have never felt more welcome than my time spent with John and his wonderful family.

My heartfelt prayers and good wishes go out to them.

I will always have fond memories of
shooting darts at the bar on Saint Patty's Day.

Tony Scalpi
Joe Foster said…
I will deeply miss his smile and kind kind heart as well as his special way with people. He was always quick of wit with me and fast with a joke about my crocks until he was converted during his illness and wore them all the time. My condolences to his family.
Anonymous said…
A fine, strong, brave man has left our midst, and we are all truly saddened. It was a gift to be a friend of his these past 40 odd years. We will miss his iron grip, his smiling face, his brave attitude and his Irish wit. My family and I send our sincerest sympathies to the Guinan family on their loss.
Anonymous said…
I only knew John Guinan a short time, yet he was a person that you felt you had known for a lifetime. He had the ability to make everyone feel like a friend and family.

I only wish that I could make half the mark on the world that he has done.

We will miss you!

I know St. Peter is there to welcome you home.

Dan Sheehan
Unknown said…
I grew up having the Guinan family and Guinans part of my extended family. My Grandmother was friends with Peg and Jim and the rest of their family since they first arrived in Garrison. Growing up with them, I had no idea that one day I would meet and eventually become engaged to John's daughter Kelly. He was a strong, couragous, and humble man, who loved nothing more then his family and all those he met in his very short time with us all. I wish with all my heart and soul he could have been here to share our wedding day, but I know in my heart and soul his spirit will be with us now and forever. You leave behind shoes I can never hope to fill, but I promise you, I will do my best for you and Kelly and the rest of the family. I will never forget all the good times we shared. God bless you.....
Anonymous said…
A big piece of Garrison's heart is missing.

John, may you be hearing only the sweetish airs in your new home beyond the clouds.

To your family, please accept my condolences, and my wish that enduring memories of such a special man help you heal. - Andy
Joe Foster said…
Lucky and I boarded Tidbit this windless morning. Our destination was the now departed Guinans. It was all I could think of to connect with John and my memories and to place some flowers at the entrance of my now empty chapel. As we ghosted slowly as if we were in our own funeral procession and the Hudson was our slow road to the Church where we would morn the loss of our friend. With much time for thoughts we rounded Gees point and could see the pale yellow and green structure that was once Gunans in the distance. Tidbit glided without motor as if she knew her spot on the south dock of the Garrison Yacht Club. Tied up and lowered the sail. Lucky and I made our way to Guinans to place our flowers, only to find out we were not alone in our thought of John and the touchstone that was Guinans. :(



Sad but with the passing of John the inside looked like a shell of its former time trap. :(

Anonymous said…
Mary Jane and the Guinan family,I was so sad to hear of John's passing. Please know that you are all in my prayers.The Guinan family was a big part of my life growing up in Garrison.Even though it has been a long time I still think back to those days.I went back to visit the Pub on my last trip to New York and spoke briefly with Margaret.I really miss those times.My deepest condolences to all of you.
Cathy Vinall Tompkins
Charlotte NC
Anonymous said…
Dear Jim, Mary Jane and family - I extend my sincerest condolences to all of you on John's passing. I didn't know John well but he always had a smile on his face and had a positive attitude.

I last saw John after Mike Mihalik's memorial service in February and he looked wonderful. He will be sorely missed. I will keep the Guinan family in my prayers.

Barbara Impellittiere
Anonymous said…
The news of Johns passing has hit the Northwest, Linda got word from Mandy and linda ran into Diane. We are saddden, but feel blessed to have called John a friend. Timmy shot me some mail this morning in turn I shot mail to Coach Sloat. Funny how John always had the nack of getting people to gather together. Jonh, a strong man of true pure spirit. May we all find peace and I know today you will raise a glass,Diane and I will also will raise a glass, I might raise it twice and then again. John thanks for your friendship and for the Pub, a glass and for us to gather. God Speed!
Beat Cornwall
Becka said…
John Guinan was behind the bar the first time my friend, Hank, and I went to the Chapel. We didn't even know how to pronounce "Guinan" and only did so with John's help. Neither did I realize the value of the hallowed ground on which we were standing. Since that day, I've learned a lot about the bar tucked into the mountains and over the river. John's kindness and that first Corona is part of my good memories. May God hold the Guinan family in the palm of his hands the next days and months. Much love to them.
Becka Rogers
Anonymous said…
I first met John when he came to cut down the tree that was shading my vegetable garden. John impressed me from the moment he got out of his truck. He did his manly work expertly, attaching a long line to the tree, so that as it fell it would not take OUT the vegetables it shaded. He then chopped up the tree with a big loud machine, packed his truck, and chatted about the dying trees that would, one day, need to come down as well.

(I'm not sure John knew how to rush...Running a little late today he would say, when I tried to squeeze the honey bear too hard at 6:08, all the while eying me with his impossible Irish twinkel...)

As John finished chatting he noticed that my son had broken his own little worker shove. At all of 2 years-old, my son was quite devastated by the flimsy tool's failure. John, taking this crappy little tool in all seriousness, hauled it into his truck and -- somehow -- repaired it. It never broke again.

I was a little stunned by this man's concern for a toddler's tool and no less so by the gravitas of his white-haired presence. It was gift from the trees which he seemed to love even as he cut them.

When John later returned to Guinan's to man the 4:30 a.m. counter, he was a presence that grounded my 6:09 morning commute with questions of whether I was expecting a flood (pants riding a little high) or quiet queries of whether I was in a bit of a mood. Who, but John, could be so generous -- and so funny --at 6:09?

I miss John, as do so many other people who, like me, didn't even know him all that well. It was enough to know John just a little -- and a privilege.

How lucky I count myself to call him someone who he knew by name.
Anonymous said…
Our sincerest condolences to the Guinan family, extended family and friends. We were latecomers to Guinan's so we did not know John personally, having only met him briefly. Hearing the stories from others gives all a sense of how beloved he was and will always be.
Michelle & Ian Sarsfield
New York, NY
Anonymous said…
Thoughts and prayers going out to the Guinan family whose love and spirit reminds me of my own family.
Anonymous said…
I am sorry to hear about John Guinan's death. Prayers, best wishes, and condolences to the family and friends of John.

"In life and in death we belong to God" Rm 14.8

Though words cannot take your loss away still may these sent in sympathy help comfort you today.
Anonymous said…
I just today got Wendy's e-mail informing me of John's passing. While I did not know him well, having only met him a couple of times, I can sympathize with the Guinan family whom I've enjoyed meeting and knowing when I was there for Irish Night and other functions. I send my sincere condolences to the Guinans and their friends at this sad time.

Steve "The Whistler" Herbst
Anonymous said…
Every morning throughout my step-daughter Emily's high school career I dropped her off at Guinan's to catch the 6:55 train. I quickly realized that it was much more relaxing to not fight the last-minute traffic in the parking lot and to go inside instead and have a coffee with John. We often stood at the door, looked out and laughed at the goings-on in the parking lot - the area we dubbed "The Zone of Chaos." It was how I got to know John and a great way to start my day. Emily always referred to John as "that nice man." Simple human things are the best.

Michael Turton
I haven't words to express my feelings.

Just Good bye John. You'll be missed and you are one to be emulated for your strenght, compassion and friendship.

Anonymous said…
I went to Garrison in 11/05 and the first place I visited in Garrison was Guinan's, there I met John. I found a friend and a family who I would always cherish our relationship and will always be here to help. John was a beautiful person and I will miss him dearly.
Anonymous said…
I'm just a guy in Madison, Alabama who got introduced to John through Wendy's book. I felt I came to know John and the family through those pages, however much that is possible. I am sorry to hear about his passing. My prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends. He obviously had a lasting impact on many.

Anonymous said…
I've known John since I was a kid and he was one of the greatest guys I've ever known. He was always nice to me and I have good memories. I'm glad I got to see him one last time last Christmas.
love you and miss you John.
-Amanda Rose

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