John passed away suddenly on September 8 surrounded by his loving family.  John was predeceased by his parents and his brother.  Grieving John are his beloved wife, Doreen; his sons, Michael and Mark and their wives, Linda and Abra.  Grandpa will also be grievously missed by his wonderful grandchildren, Birch, Clara, Emery and Rourke.  He is also survived by his nephew, Steven Greffen and his niece, Janice Johnson as well as his nephews, Greg and Ward Fanning and Greg Heath.

John was born in Claresholm, AB and grew up on the family farm near Parkland, AB. He received his education at SAIT, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.   His professional career began as a draftsman and later as a high school teacher.  Before long his love of art and the creative process took him into architecture.  During this period, his sons were born and later, he returned to farming near Nanton, Alberta.  In 1986, John and his family moved to Victoria.

Once again, art found a place in his life and he spent several years at the Victoria College of Art, first as a student and then as a teacher.  Always a devoted husband and a loving father, he engaged with whatever community he was a part of, giving his time and spirit generously.   He was playful with his children and showed gentleness, humour and a kind spirit in all he did.  His kindness and genuine interest in the world around him was one of John’s hallmarks.

John had an enduring interest in nature in all its forms and expressed it through farming, relationships with animals, an appreciation of birds, and by working in his garden.  Art was a continuing theme for John throughout his life.  John experienced the magic of art in the process and trusted in the outcome when he simply stayed in the moment.

He lived his life the same way, the experience of living and sharing his life leaving him fulfilled and enriching the lives of those around him.  All who were fortunate enough to meet John experienced his gentleness and humour.  His greatest masterpiece was a life well lived, and it is keenly felt and carried forward by those whom he leaves behind.

A service for John will be held in the Sequoia Centre at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive on Saturday, September 22 at 2:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charitable organization of your choice.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens


  • R. M. Schuler
    September 25, 2018

    To John’s family:

    I did not know John well, but met him a few years ago at Henderson Recreation Centre. A number of us regulars at the gym were shocked and saddened to read of John’s death, and I just wanted to let you know that even through casual interactions with him we were greatly impressed by his gentle humour and kindliness. I remember talking with John (while exercising vigorously, of course) about gardening, fence-building, and the generally deplorable state of the world. His presence always made a visit to the gym an enjoyable experience, as he helped create the humane atmosphere that we value at HRC. We are very sorry for your loss. Bob

  • Rosemary Allan
    September 20, 2018

    Dear Doreen, Mark, Abra, and other Greffen family members:
    It was with a flood of memories overcoming me when Sheelagh forwarded the news of John’s passing on. How well I recollect the year that Doreen buoyed me up as I taught in Nanton, and even permitted me to teach Mark!!

    I met Johnny later in the context of the library certs that were required for Doreen, but my most vivid memory, was the year of the bad drought in and around Nanton…….and Doreen’s saying, You can take the boy out of the farm, but can never take the farm out of the boy!! The land, air, and light always inspire the arts!! My condolences to all there, and having lost two parents and a sister have found the loss is a progressive process that changes us in inimitable ways.
    my very best wishes to you all as Johnny is laid to rest,
    best regards, Rosemary Allan

  • Lucille McKone
    September 14, 2018

    Dear Doreen and Family,
    Brian and Margot contacted us, to share the news of John’s passing, and immediately our thoughts went out to you all. We were pleased to have shared time with you and John during our visit to Victoria, and as well, at Abra and Mark’s wedding. We truly hope it will comfort you in some small way, knowing we care and are sharing your loss.
    With Deepest Empathy,
    Gerry and Lu

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