Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John Reece

"J" is for John Cameron Reece born in 1977 in Grand Prairie, Texas, the only one of our three children not born in Brazil. He disappeared in the Kohala Mountains on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1999 after leaving to go on a hike on Thanksgiving Day.

John in the lab at Wheaton College
  Rick Reece photo (all rights reserved)

What can I say about John? He was a young man of integrity, self-discipline, uprightness. He was kind and thoughtful and passionately loyal to his friends. But the characteristic that stands out most was his passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ and his burning desire to share that relationship and hope and love with those around him.

He was an avid reader but avoided "junk" books. He read mainly the kind of books you would find on a list of recommended reading for college bound students. And he read his Bible - probably the only book he took with him on his fateful hike.

Orchids and tropical fish were his primary hobbies. Wherever he went he would set up an aquarium. In Brazil, he and his father built a huge aquarium and he stocked it with tropical fish from the stream just down the road from where we lived. Even in college he had an aquarium in his room. His love for orchids began when he was 10 years old. He read the whole Time Life book on Orchids from cover to cover and then proceeded to become an orchid collector and expert.

Here is an entry from his journal written in Hawaii about orchids:

"There is a particular orchid that grows everywhere around here. There are apparently only 3 native Hawaiian orchids, and 4 non-native species that have gone wild. The one I’ve been seeing is terrestrial, has white flowers with purple lip, and grows about 1 m. high. I think it is an introduced species."

John loved everything about God's creation. Here is another excerpt from his journal about what he observed in Hawaii:

"Yesterday I rode around Crater Rim Drive right nearby here. Some of the craters are huge, and there are a lot of steam vents and the smell of sulphur and everything. The road goes over several recent lava flows, the most recent being 1982 if I remember correctly. It’s amazingly desolate riding over a lava flow, where all you can see is sharp black rock everywhere.

"From what I’ve seen so far, this has to be the most amazing place I’ve ever lived. There’s rainforest, mesa and dry forest all within biking distance, craters with recent lava flows and steam vents nearby, mountains in the distance on clear days, and a perfect sky on clear nights."

The most amazing gift John gave us was his journal, written from 1995 to 1999, the last entry written just 6 days before his hike. It gave us something tangible, something that revealed what he was thinking and how he processed the circumstances and events around him. We have edited it and call it John's Legacy. We plan to make it available as an e-book on Kindle - we'll let you know when.

John's legacy to us was the privilege and honor of being parents to a deep, thoughtful and creative thinker. Although he was generally quiet, he wasn't afraid to express what he truly thought. We always asked his opinion before making a decision and he always asked ours. He was not only our son, but our friend. We may be slightly biased, but he was a godly example to us in so many ways. You can read more about John and about our search for him in our book, Aloha is Forever.

Do you know any young people who are an example to you?


  1. Sharon, your post brings tears to my eyes and gives me chills. How wonderful for you to have this journal!

    Thank you for sharing.


  2. Hi Sharon,
    I enjoyed learning more about your son today. He and I were born the same year! Sometimes I feel awkward in my comments to you because of the tragic loss you've suffered. I don't ever want to write something that causes pain so forgive me if I ever do.

    I find comfort that John had the Bible with him! I also know that the Lord was with him as well.

    His journal is a legacy and a blessing. How wonderful that you still have a piece of him with you always. And for me I would have had a ton of questions when he disappeared. I imagine that his journal answered some of your questions. I hope that it did.

    I think your blog is an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Thank you Monti and Jack for stopping by and commenting today.

    Brianna, the Lord gave us such amazing closure and healing that you don't need to worry about what you say. We feel it is part of our mission to share our story and encourage and help so many others who have lost loved ones and maybe don't understand or haven't experienced the comfort and healing He longs to give. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Sharon, Thank you for sharing this about John. His journal must have been such a gift and blessing to you after his disappearance.

  5. What a wonderful tribute to this extraordinary young man. I know that you will be of great comfort to those who experience loss and grief such as yours in life. You have already started down that path of being there to support others. I am truly amazed about the journal that came to you. That is a miracle.

  6. I loved reading about John. He sounds like an amazing young man. Thanks for sharing this.

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  8. In response to your last question I can only think of one man. He will for ever be missed and aside from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, John is the best example of a man walking with Christ daily that I have ever met.

  9. Dawn, your comments are most appreciated. His journal has been a tremendous blessing to us and to many others.

    Jeanne, thanks so much for your kind comments.

    Shellie, yes, he was an amazing young man. Even more amazing was the fact that he became who he was in spite of us but in response to our prayers.

    brazu76, you must be one of his close friends and I can only guess because you didn't leave your name. I'm sure you are doing a great job of following in Jesus' footsteps.

  10. lol sorry didn't realize it would just do my email this is Tim.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.