I was wondering why I hadn’t received one of John’s funny emails in a while.
When I received my issue of Boca Raton magazine in the mail last week, I did what I always do and I turned right to the very back page, where John Shuff’s article “My Turn” always appears. In retrospect, I had a strange reaction – there was a very large headshot of John and three brief paragraphs underneath. My eyes had skipped right past the birthdate and death date at the top, under his name. I think I was hoping the article was just announcing that he wasn’t going to write the article anymore, and thanks to him for writing it for so many years. The phrase “we will commemorate his memory…” shook me out of my denial.
The Officer and the Gentleman
When I was almost finished writing my book “Game Over, MS” in late 2018, I asked John if he would be so kind as to write the foreword. After all, he was diagnosed with MS in 1975 at age 35, and he has led a very active and involved life despite being in a wheelchair and having some visual difficulties. I knew about it because I had interviewed him for a college paper in 1992, so when I was diagnosed in 2000 at age 29, I immediately thought of him.
I knew that he had been on the basketball team at Notre Dame, and that he was a devout Catholic who loved going to Utah every summer. He and his wife Margaret Mary not only founded Boca Raton magazine, but also Salt Lake magazine and several others. He was living a life that others only dream of!
So after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I sent an email to him at Boca Raton magazine about my diagnosis, and he kindly called me back and left me a voice message. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was very uplifting and encouraging. I was honored that he’d called me! It made me feel like I was now part of some sort of exclusive club, and only people who are part of this club get calls like this from people like him – a former chief financial officer of Capital Cities/ABC, and now a magazine magnate.
This whole MS thing may not be so bad after all.
Reaching Age 80 Despite MS
He did write the foreword to my book, and it’s a piece of art. To celebrate the book, I had lunch with him and Margaret Mary in April of last year at Kathy's Gazebo Cafe in Boca, and we were supposed to have lunch again this past spring – I was looking forward to it being an “annual” event together, and this time my husband Kevin was supposed to join us. But the stupid virus got in the way, and so we were tentatively talking about postponing it to May or June.
He had lunch with Jesus in June instead! God bless you, John Shuff.