A picture stands in my friends Marli and John Iverson’s living room. Framed for posterity is a young man, his arm embracing a string bass. In his youth, his face smooth, his hair long, the man is beautiful, as some men can be. At over six feet tall, the man in the picture also projects an unconscious power. Power and beauty. Grace.
John’s good looks stayed with him as he aged well into his seventies. Music also remained his second love with Marli always his first. His voice, as was the man, was strong and beautiful. A tenor, John on occasion sang in the Seattle Opera’s chorus. John brought his love of music to Seattle Rotary #4, where he served as president from 2007-2008. Before he took office, John chartered the formation of a musical group to reprise a band, the Rotary Rogues, which had entertained the club in earlier years.
With an enthusiastic if musically imperfect debut, the Rogues 2.0 played at John’s inaugural meeting. After John’s presidential year ended the Rogues welcomed him to its fold. He played bass and sang, strong and beautifully. The Rogues’ musical prowess and commitment to service grew over time. The band regularly played at retirement homes. An audience of octogenarians would regain youthful energy as the Rogues reprised Sentimental Journey, Tuxedo Junction, and other old time favorites. From the band stand, one could look out and see folks transported to another time and place, one that knew nothing of oxygen tanks, canes, or walkers.
Several days after learning of John’s sudden and unexpected death, disbelief lingered. I had looked forward to music making with John again after Eulalie and my cruising stopped. Not joining my voice with John’s again was beyond my imagination. How I would miss hearing his voice.
At the Rotary meeting following John’s passage, the Rogues took to the podium to honor John. The song choice was easy: Amazing Grace, which the Rogues regularly sang towards the end of their nursing home performances. John always soloed a verse, his beautiful, strong tenor true and clear. I hear it now, as I will always when I think of John.