Written by Rick Archer July 2007
On Tuesday, July 3rd, John Jones
passed away after a lengthy and very unsettling battle with
John was a very brave man. I could not help but stand in awe
of his stoic courage throughout his medical ordeal. But
let's put that aside for now.
John will be remembered for many years here at SSQQ as the
man who helped Sharon (Crawford) Shaw create the finest
Western Waltz class our city has ever seen.
I don’t teach on Wednesdays at the moment, but by chance
a few weeks ago I had a reason to stop by the studio
at 6:30 pm. I was stunned to see John there that night
as always to help Sharon Shaw with her Western Waltz class.
He wasn’t very steady on his feet and he looked to be in
some pain, but that wasn’t going to stop John from being
John knew full well he didn’t have many days left, so
believe me when I say I am deeply honored that he chose to
share some of those precious moments with all of us at the
studio while he still could.
Sure enough, John was
determined to contribute on a Wednesday Night just like he
had for the past fifteen years or so in some way or another.
Because John was a quiet man
and perhaps a little gruff, I did not know him very well. John's
public persona was something of a Grumpy Gus. Since I was
a little intimidated by John, I didn’t often walk up to him
to have an idle chat with him as often as I would others who were more
Other people at the
studio, Linda Cook for example, weren't fooled at all. Linda's
fondest memory was having John come up to her
every Wednesday Night before class to check to see what books
she was bringing to the
studio. Linda soon learned to always bring her new books
on Wednesdays so John could go through and
pick the ones his mom would like to read. While
sifting through the books, John would ask
Linda what she was teaching
that night, ask if she needed any help going over
the patterns, and see if she needed
Sharon related a story about the time she had to
have an outpatient procedure done. She had to be at the hospital at
6:00 a.m. They would not let her drive because she was going to be
sedated. Sharon decided to take a cab to the hospital and take
John up on his offer to pick her up after the procedure.
Linda's story confirmed what all of us suspected - John may have looked a little grumpy at times, but his
many kind actions
always gave him away.
On the morning of her procedure, John knocked on her door at 5:15 am
to take her to the hospital. He told Sharon he couldn't sleep
so he decided to drive on over. Not only did he John take her
and pick her up, he also got her prescriptions filled. Nor
would he leave the house until he made sure that Sharon had a
telephone and water before he left. Sharon added that she knew
very few people who would go so much out of their way.
At a recent reception organized by Mary to
allow all of us to pay tribute to John, one person after another
came up to me to share stories just like Sharon's. Each person
would tell me how John fixed this for them or did that for them.
John helped many people in many ways whenever he could. John
was widely admired for his generosity.
At the same time, John had an odd way of frustrating people - John
refused to ever let anyone return a favor.
Here is a perfect example. At the reception, I saw an old
beat-up, yellow check made out to John for $23. Naturally I
was curious, so I asked. The check had been written to John by one
of his best friends way back in 1983. John and his best friend
had gone somewhere with the agreement that they would split the
costs. John paid for everything, then refused to ever cash his
buddy's check when they got home.
At the time, his friend was mad at John for
keeping him in his debt over 23 lousy bucks! Now, twenty four
years later, the friend was still cussing about it... and laughing
All he could say was, 'That's John, the old grouch!'.
Quick to frown, slow to smile, cantankerous, moody, quiet,
inscrutable... and kind.
Underneath that stern guise beat the heart of a very decent man.
The Master at work. John had great skill,
but was extremely reluctant to show off. In fact,
John's business partner Cynthia told me she had never seen
him dance despite many occasions like weddings where he
could have easily shown his skills. Thus we have
almost no pictures of John actually dancing! Above are some
of the few exceptions.
These pictures are are
from John's step-daughter’s wedding in 2003. Here JJ is
waltzing with Jacqueline (John’s step-daughter). John gave
her away when she got married in 2003. John and Sharon
worked with Jac and her husband Jeff on a crash waltz lesson
in prep for dancing at the reception.
THE WESTERN WALTZ
In case you did not know this, John had a lifelong love of the
Back in the mid-Nineties, John spent the countless
evenings he spent in back rooms at the studio practicing his
Waltz with his best friend (and former wife) Mary Jones.
Every Wednesday night around 9 pm, John would get together with Mary
and dance the night away just for the sheer joy of mastering this beautiful dance
John ordered every videotape ever made on the subject and
did his level best to add each new move (some of which were
unbelievably complicated) to his collection of patterns.
I was witness to those many evenings. John had become a
phenomenal dancer. Finally I couldn't take it any more. One
night in 1999, I suggested that John consider sharing his vast
knowledge of patterns.
I could see that John took my suggestion
seriously. An opportunity to contribute was something John could not
pass up. John decided he would enjoy sharing his knowledge
with as many people as he possibly could.
But there was one problem. Teaching wasn't his strength. John
told me he was too quiet. But he just happened to know someone
who was a born teacher. So John walked down the room to find
Sharon and ask her if she was game. Sharon smiled. Absolutely!
That is the story of how John collaborated with
his close friend Sharon (Crawford) Shaw to put together the
finest Western Waltz program this city has ever seen.
For practically the entire Millennium Year 2000, John and
Sharon would meet on Wednesdays at 6 pm or so and practice the
patterns they would teach that night.
Due to the diligence which is the basic nature of both John
and Sharon, their five-month Western Waltz program here at the
studio was incredibly well received.
I will never forget the incredible vision of 100 people
dancing the Western Waltz all at once in Room One on Wednesday
addition I will never forget all the years that John went out of
his way to share CDs of his Western Waltz music to one
generation of SSQQ Western Waltz student after another because
he loved to contribute. John collected the music, organized the
compilation, and burned hundreds of CDs to give to Western Waltz
students at SSQQ free of charge.
I would guess a thousand different people have a John Jones Western
Waltz CD to remember him by.
I smile as I remind all of you that we owe
John a huge ‘thank you’ for inspiring us to become better Waltzers!
I hope I never dance a Western Waltz again without first saying a
quiet mental tribute in his honor.
It is my memory of John
Jones that I respected him a great deal. John was a good man.
We will all miss him very much.
Rest in Peace, John Jones.
Written by Rick
The irony, of course, is that anyone who first saw John
dance would never guess that he would someday be known for
his perfection in a dance as intricate as Waltz. He was
pretty stiff there at the start. Dancing did not come
John began taking classes here at SSQQ in 1994. He
had recently gone through a sad but amicable divorce from his wife
of 17 years, Mary Jones.
John worked for an insurance agency at the time. One
of his co-workers was Linda Rooks. Linda just happened
to also teach at SSQQ (in fact, Linda was one the finest natural dance teachers SSQQ has ever
been graced with).
Linda said he needed to get it going again.
John wasn't used to getting advice from anyone, but then you
don't know Linda. Eventually
Linda won him over. John decided to give Swing Dancing a try
here at the studio.
From what I have pieced together, John was not an instant
success on the dance floor. A reserved man, John was very uncomfortable
doing anything he was not excellent at. He was a
perfectionist who didn't appreciate looking clumsy under any
circumstances. John fell
into the trap of never practicing his Swing Dancing because
he didn't want to be seen looking awkward. As a result, he
never became any good at Swing Dancing because he never
Okay, everyone who has ever made that
same dumb mistake raise
your hand. By the way, I raised my hand too.
Despite his lack of instant success or maybe because he
wasn't an instant success, John became more interested in
learning to dance. Whatever the reason, John signed up for more classes.
Pretty soon John discovered Western Dancing and found it more
to his liking. A country boy, John grew up near
Caldwell, a town about 20 miles west of Bryan. My
guess is John was more at home with the Western music.
John began to practice and discovered this dancing stuff
wasn't so hard after all once you actually practice a little.
John talked Mary, his ex-wife
of a few months, into joining him. Like John, Mary
Jones is a quiet, dignified, very
private woman. Unlike John, she smiles easily, but I
wouldn't characterize Mary necessarily as
'outgoing'. She is reserved.
John and Mary stayed very close after their divorce,
a fact that I admired greatly for both individuals.
In fact, for seven years after they stopped being
married, they still spent a great deal of time
As I observed, John was always happy at the studio
when Mary was around. He even smiled once in a
while. Imagine that.
Together they learned Twostep, Polka, and the
Western Swing. At some point John discovered
the Western Waltz.
The Waltz became the dance that
John took his fancy to. John loved to practice
his Waltz. Mary enjoyed the Waltz too, but
not to the same extent. John was determined to master
every possible nuance of this graceful dance.
I believe the fact that Waltz is fluid and graceful
is what that attracted John in the first place.
Often described as the Romantic Western dance, Waltz
is very elegant. John would never be described
as a "Boogie Dancer", but one word always attributed
to his dance style was "smooth".
In addition, if ever there was a single word to
describe Mary, 'Elegant' would be a good one. Tall,
beautiful, and graceful, Mary appeared to float as
she danced in John's arms.
There was a period of several
years - 1995 through 1997 - when every Wednesday
night John and Mary would go down to Room 3 after
class, put on a Waltz CD and begin to dance.
Round and round the floor went John and Mary for an
hour, sometimes longer. It became a Wednesday
Night tradition for them.
Many nights I would see them on the way to the drink
room, then stop. Invariably I would stop and watch
in awe as the two of them displayed their dance
Both John and Mary were very
humble about their improvement, but in truth their
constant practice was turning them into the Western
Waltz version of Fred and Ginger.
Mary was kind enough to share with me some of her
thoughts about those days and nights of the eternal
Waltz. Here is what Mary had to say.
Yes, I have fond memories of our waltzing,
practicing and fine tuning those years at SSQQ.
John, I think, would have loved to move toward
competing in waltz, but I was not really wanting
that type of spotlight.
So we just polished our “act” as best we could for
our own pleasure at the studio, The Longhorn, Wild
West or wherever we danced. We took various
group and private lessons to better enjoy our own
And yes I remember how we spent countless hours in
the practice room at SSQQ attempting to perfect
those un-perfectible moves and routines.
I agree that John’s waltzing served to inspire many
at SSQQ to pursue the excellence in waltz.
Of course our friend Sharon will always be the Queen
Bee of Waltz.
Sharon perfected every move and showed endless
patience with all of us in class after class as many
of us repeated all of them time and time again.
True to his nature, John had explicitly told his family no
service, no funeral, etc, but his mother apparently found a
loophole. John had failed to forbid them to have a
party in his name.
Upon his death, John's lovely mother Marjorie asked Mary to
organize a party of sorts to give us all a chance to share
some memories. After all, Mary knew who John's Houston
friends were better than anyone. So that's exactly what Mary
and Marjorie did - they threw a party for John on Saturday,
Although there were tears shed, of course, it turned out to
be a great party. There were a lot of smiles and a lot
of warmth shared that day. Mary deserves a lot of
credit for making what could have been a deeply maudlin
moment into an enjoyable party instead.
If John was watching from some vantage point how the many
the well-wishers offered up countless compliments,
testimonies and good-natured digs, I am certain he would
have objected a little. He couldn't stand people
making a fuss over him.
But then again somehow I don't think John would have minded
too much. Mary deserves credit for throwing a great
LINDA ROOKS DECKER
As I mentioned earlier, Linda Rooks... now Linda
Decker... was the close friend who accomplished the miracle of
getting John to sign up for a dance class.
I would like to share a little about Linda before moving back to
Linda was one of the finest instructors this studio has ever had.
She started teaching in 1990 and continued through to 1998.
Linda met her future husband Rad Decker at SSQQ. From the
moment I saw them together, I thought they fit like a glove.
Intelligent, gracious, poised were words that immediately
come to mind about Linda. However, Linda had one Achilles heel
- she was terrified of cameras. I have never in my life seen
anyone contort their face into a more crooked smile than Linda when
it came time to say 'cheese'. That explains while this
ridiculous 1998 Halloween picture of Linda and Rad is so special. It
is the only picture out of dozens I took over the years where Linda
appears to be smiling.
Here is what
Linda Decker asked Mary to share with the group at
Rad and I are sitting
in our room at the Residence Inn in Marlborough,
MA, reminiscing about
We remember with fondness his mischievous smirk
and the twinkle in his eyes as he tried - always
successfully - to rile Rad. John just loved
agitating Rad and we loved John - not in spite
of - but because he loved to tease.
There are so many fond memories. We remember his
generosity - he was always there for us if we
needed help, and we were always needing
might not have been comfortable sitting and
holding our hands as we cried, but he could fix
a meal, hang a swing in a tree, replace windows,
share his double-dipped French fries, and sit
and drink a beer or two on the back porch.
And we remember his tenderness with his cats -
he spoke gruffly to them (at least in front of
us), but not hatefully. He spent hours teaching
them to fetch old socks and clothespins. He
loved them fiercely even if he never said the
I imagine he loved a lot of us fiercely, without
ever saying it in words.
We wish that we could be with you today to share
the stories - to pay tribute to our friend - to
celebrate the life of this often exasperating
man whom we loved fiercely. We are there in
spirit and in love. We will never forget him.
July 7, 2007
SHARON CRAWFORD SHAW
No story about John Jones that I write could
be complete without further reflection on the Western Waltz class
that he and Sharon put together.
It is the SSQQ Western Waltz class that will ensure that
John's memory will linger for a long time throughout Houston Western
During the 1990s, Sharon became a Competition Western Dancer.
Back then, Sharon and her dance partner Patrick Steerman practiced
the Western Waltz almost as often as John and Mary did.
It is no accident that John and Sharon became fast friends.
They had so much in common!
Both grew up in small country towns here in Texas and
eventually migrated to Houston. Both had a deep love of Western
And they were both busy mastering the Western Waltz at the
exact same time and place back in 1994-1995.
Besides their mutual love of dance, as long as
I have known John and Sharon, they operated practically as brother
and sister. Both John and Sharon are perfectionists. They are
both modest and humble, yet deeply gifted people. Both John
and Sharon absolutely thrive on being of service to other people.
They are both known for integrity and a deep sense of
responsibility. Sharon and John are the kind of people on which
civilization depends - they are rock solid human beings whose
leadership and competence are legendary. People feel safe
trusting them with anything. Anything!!
Like Linda Decker in a
previous story, recently the former Miss Sharon
Crawford has found great happiness in her 2005
marriage to her handsome husband Bill Shaw.
Not surprisingly, the story of their
courtship intertwines through Sharon's Western Waltz
Bill and Sharon had known of each other from afar
all the way back to the mid-Nineties.
In fact, I ran across pictures from a 1995 SSQQ
party where both Sharon, Bill and their significant
others were dancing right along beside each other.
Curiously though, Bill and Sharon made
their initial connection in 2003 via an online dating
service. It took email for Bill to finally get up the
courage to say hi.
Bill has told me several times he thought Sharon was the most
intimidating woman he ever had to approach. All Bill
could think of was this image
of the beautiful dance goddess in her lovely competition
Bill started taking Sharon's Western
Waltz class in 2003. Bill had nursed a crush on Sharon
for a long time and I believe he was so impressed by her
Waltz class that he just assumed she was out of his league.
Bright, pretty, slender, poised, classy and admired by so
many men, Bill just couldn't get up the nerve to approach
Of course anyone who knows Sharon realizes she is the most
approachable human being on earth, but I
understood EXACTLY what Bill meant. When you see
Sharon dance... be it the Waltz, the Whip, or the Western
Swing, you see one of the finest natural dancers in Houston
put on quite a show.
So for quite some time in Bill's world it was look,
but don't touch. Finally one night Bill ran into Sharon at the opera. They
both were on dates, so he couldn't do much to take advantage
of their chance meeting. But he realized how much he wanted to talk to
So when Bill noticed Sharon's name pop up on the
dating service, the opportunity to finally bridge the gap
was too good to pass up. One click of the mouse was
all it took to light the fire. Two years later Bill
and Sharon were married.
I realize I got a bit side tracked, but my reason for
sharing this story is simple - Sharon spent twenty years
patiently waiting for the right man. Isn't it nice to
see Sharon's Waltz class pay a few dividends?
SSQQ WESTERN WALTZ CLASS
If you look carefully at the picture
of Sharon and her former dance partner Patrick Steerman, you will notice '1994'
in the background.
1994 was also the year that John Jones embarked on his dance project.
As you can gather, Sharon's path to excellence and John's
path to excellence ran parallel.
I have written on many an occasion of my own
of Whip Dancing in a row. It was my way of regaining sanity.
Coming off his divorce, I will go out on a limb and guess
that John's Waltz project had to be just as important to him
as my own journey was to me. Dance
became a huge part of his life and gave him a new sense of
self and enjoyment, part of which Mary
was able to share and enjoy with him.
This is one reason why I have always identified with John's
accomplishment - he was just as obsessed with dancing as a
way to come to grips with who he was as I had been back in
1986. Dancing has a way of curing a broken heart.
Whatever his motivations, through his countless hours of
practice, John transformed himself into one of the finest
Waltz dancers in all of Houston.
Since we are on the subject, there really is
no such thing as 'Western Waltz'. There is simply 'Waltz'.
All Waltz moves can be adapted to be danced in a limited area or
travel in a circle around the floor.
Western Waltz is limited to the Waltz patterns that travel. Western
Waltz is danced Waltz music recorded by Western singers.
Therefore 'Western Waltz' can be defined as Waltz patterns that
travel combined with Western Waltz music. But in truth, the
same patterns work beautifully to any Waltz music available.
That said, people prefer to dance to music they are comfortable
with. Since Houstonians have always had a love affair with
Western music, Western Waltz caught on at SSQQ in a big way before
Ballroom Waltz caught on seven years later in 2007. Had it not
been for 'Dancing with the Stars', I am not sure Houstonians would
ever have discovered that Waltz has a life beyond George Strait.
When Sharon and John taught their first extended Western Waltz class
back in April of 2000, they had over 70 people sign up for Beginning
Sharon and John were stunned. No one expected a class of that
size. I explained to John at the time that people had been
watching him dance the Waltz for five years. Whenever
Mary wasn't available, John would ask Sharon to dance with him at
Practice Night. Once they got started, many people either
stopped dancing to watch. Watching John and Sharon dance at
Practice Night on Wednesdays was the highlight of the evening.
Talk about advertisement! Looking back, no wonder the class
was so big.
Word spread. Due to the high energy of the Beginner class,
naturally we scheduled a follow-up Intermediate class in May.
Normally you have fewer people for Intermediate. However there
was no drop-off! Not only did the same 70 people stick around,
the class grew a little bit as experienced Waltz dancers joined in
progress to share the fun.
Soon the students started begging for more levels. Sharon and John
added an Advanced level in June. Then came Super-Advanced in July.
Sharon and John stopped at four levels in 2000, but when the same
thing happened the following year, they found a way to add a fifth
month of Western Waltz in 2001.
What made their class exceptionally fun was that many of the dancers
stay after class to practice. If you go to Wild West, you might get
one Waltz an hour. And there might be a limited supply of
people to dance with.
Here at SSQQ I dedicated Room 4 strictly for Waltz music. Now
there was a steady supply of partners and a steady stream of Waltz
music. The joint was jumping! It wasn't unusual on
a Wednesday night to go down to Room 4 and see two dozen couples
swirling and twirling across the floor! The entire
room was wall to wall with beautiful Waltz couples!
Practice Night became just as exciting as the class itself. This led
to three important developments.
First, as you might guess, all that practice paid off. Sharon
and John's students started to become accomplished Waltz dancers in
their own right. In fact, these people were so impressed by
the skill they developed, many of them came back each year to review
the class just so they could get even better!
Second, all the students who were just beginning to learn Twostep
and Polka would wander down there during Practice Night to watch.
Imagine how impressed they were! So when the next round
of Western Waltz started up the following year, Sharon and John's
class invariably filled up quickly with the next generation of SSQQ
In fact, this class got so full that on several occasions we
literally had to CLOSE this course due to over-crowding. I actually
had to post monitors at the doors to prevent people from sneaking
in. Why? Because we caught people signing up for another
course as a ploy, then move over to Room One when no one was
looking. Good grief.
THE LEGEND OF THE WALTZ
As the Western Waltz class began its eighth year in 2007, the
numbers remain just as amazing today as they have been for nearly a
decade. Beginning Western Waltz had 60, Intermediate had 66,
and Advanced had 60 students. This class has lost none of its
Third, many SSQQ Romances flourished in Sharon and John's class.
Sharon wasn't the only one who caught a man, believe me! Waltz is
not called the "Romantic Western Dance" by accident. I would
estimate at least a dozen marriages and many romances developed as
the result of the Western Waltz class.
The music is very
pretty and all those turns make women a little dizzy. Women
would use every smile and charm to work their way into the arms of a
good male lead. And if he was cute, they weren't above using
their elbows on their sisters.
Along the way, John did something very nice. He started making
CD copies of his collection of Western Waltz music. Although I
am sure he broke dozens of copyright laws in the process, he didn't
do it for personal gain. John never charged a dime. He knew
good Western Waltz music wasn't easy to come by, so this was a small
favor in his mind that he could share with all of his students.
Small favor to him, but in reality John was copying and handing out
several hundred free CDs a month to all comers!
A John Jones Western Waltz CD was a hot ticket, believe me.
As it stands today, many of the finest Waltz
dancers throughout Houston claim they owe their skill to Sharon and
John's Western Waltz class. Thank goodness that Sharon intends
to carry the torch for a while longer. Sharon threatened to
retire in 2007 but had so much fun in 2006 that she changed her
Although our focus is about John, Sharon's own story is intertwined.
Teaching Western Waltz had been a labor of love for her just as much
as it has been for John.
and I have been friends since the early 90s. He is really
the big brother I never had. I can't tell you how many times he
helped me out in one way or another.
Like many people, I feel I never got to pay him back for all of
his kindnesses. He would hardly ever let me do anything for him.
John would never take credit for the success of our classes, but
the truth is it would have been difficult for me to teach them
without him. John was much more than a volunteer in my
class. John was a good friend who I will miss terribly."
Sharon mentioned to me that
John's favorite Waltz was Old Friend
by Scooter Lee. Sharon asked me to include it
because the song speaks for itself.
always there whenever I called
There was no need to believe you wouldn’t be there
if I should fall
Through all our ups and downs you were always
you and me we’ve been through it all
With all the laughter and tears we’ve lasted for
Old Friend I’m glad you’re around
Cause my old friend lives deep in my heart
You have no ending can’t remember the start
Old friend who could always make me smile
It’s no wonder I love you, Old
I hope in reading my story
about the Western Waltz class that John and Sharon
created, you have come to understand why their class
is such a special event.
John was the technician who came up with all
the intricate patterns.
Sharon was the master instructor who somehow
was able to explain difficult Waltz moves in such a
plain and simple manner that everyone got it.
And what a team they made! Each week
the students watched as their instructors
demonstrated the moves so beautifully that everyone
in the room was inspired to someday be as good as
John and Sharon. And that is John's legacy to
all of us.
A WORD OF TRIBUTE FROM
(Rick Archer's Note: Robert originally began classes at SSQQ
in 1992. He credits learning to dance with changing
his personality and his ability to deal with others more
effectively. Saying Dance was one of the best things
he ever did for himself, Robert says he actually began to
open up and become more outgoing in the process.
Robert has taken the Western Waltz series from John and
Sharon on many an occasion.)
When John first came out to the Longhorn I had all ready
been dancing for almost two years. Typically, my friend
Duana Jones (not related) and I went to either the Longhorn
or the Post Oak Ranch. However, I do not ever remember
seeing John at the Post Oak Ranch.
At first John sat and mostly danced with his wife Mary, but
gradually he moved on to other dancers. He always sat in a
group with about 20 of us at the Longhorn. He never drank
too much, just danced.
I know John had a reputation for being a bit gruff, but I
always thought that was all just a
front. There was a lot of kidding between us
although I did most of the talking. I would ask
him questions like, “Did you bump anybody off today?” or
“Has Mary attacked you with a meat cleaver lately?”
John would usually answer “Nope”
or in some monosyllables a bit like Gary Cooper in
It was kind of hard for me to get him to talk about much of
anything except dancing. But then later
on occurred to me that maybe he just didn’t know how
to deal with me or just couldn't bring himself to take me
His specialty really was Waltz. And he was much better at
it that I ever have been. I can remember being in 2 Super
Advanced Waltz classes at SSQQ in which he assisted Sharon,
and she seemed really glad to have him helping. Over the
past 15 years I have seen a lot dancers come on go, but
John was about as good as I’ve
seen at the Western Waltz. AND HE
He also liked Night Club Two Step.
He got pretty good at that. One night after he was
assisting in Night Club Two Step he gave everyone in the
class CD”s of songs suitable for that type of dance. I
guess he had made them himself. I still have my copy.
About a year before he died I began to notice that
John had deteriorated somewhat.
He seemed to be a little slower and tired more easily. I
assumed this might be due to the medication, but I always
thought that he would shake it off and come right back.
I asked him several times if there was anything I could do
to help, but he just kind of shrugged it off. Then for a
period of many months I didn’t see him at all and suddenly
one of the other dancers told me that he was gone.
I extend my heartfelt condolences to all of the family and
friends of this fine, decent man.
August 11, 2007
SECOND WORD OF TRIBUTE
FROM GUY HOOVER
(As of July 2007, Hoover
assists Jill Banta with her Sunday Night Ballroom class)
I met John in the
Western Waltz class about 3 years ago. I had talked
with him a few times and said hello at Wild West.
I was always happy to see John at
Wild West. When he danced, I stepped aside just to
watch. Everybody needs a dance hero for inspiration
and John was my mine. Z
John was smooth in all of the
Western dances and it showed in his partners' smiles.
One night in Room 1 before Western Waltz
class, he and
I were making small talk next to the stereo.
I said to him, "John,
when I grow up, I want to be a good dancer just like you. I
want to help out in a class and wear black."
John chuckled and replied to the
effect I should try to be like someone who was
Class started and Sharon called John to the middle of the
room to demo. As always,
the two of them were the picture of
perfection. Brief though it was, that tidbit of conversation stuck with me.
Last January 2007, Jill
Banta and I were teaching the
first night of Beginning Ballroom in Room 1. I was standing
next to the CD player when Jill waved me over to start the
class. I was there to help her
demo in Foxtrot, Rumba & Waltz.
As I stepped towards
memory of that conversation rushed back to me.
was, "My God, I'm John. In
this class, I'm just like John was
I had my black shirt on,
assisting, and the beginners thought I was good.
Well, two out of three ain't
will never be as graceful on the floor as
John was, but for a moment there I
had an inkling of why John
continued to show up on Wednesday nights.
I am grateful
John was there to show me
what a good dancer looks like, but
how he should be willing to
inspire others as well.
Rick Archer's Note
As we enter our
30th year, SSQQ is as successful today as it ever has been. Much of
the glory comes to me because I run the show and I am the public
face. I hope this story makes it readily apparent that SSQQ is not
great just because Rick Archer is the owner. I do contribute, but as
you can see I have lots of help.
SSQQ is a reflection of the people who serve... kind, decent,
giving, caring. Sharon and John get the spotlight, but there
many instructors, assistants, and volunteers just like Sharon and
John. This story is a good example. It has been written with
the help of Linda Decker, Mary Jones, Guy Hoover, Linda Cook and
Sharon Shaw. I get to reap the lion's share of the credit because my
name is on this story. But in truth I could not have written
this story without their help, now could I? This studio is a
SSQQ is a special place because people like John Jones and many more
people just like him make incredible contributions all the time
without any expectation of being praised in the process. In John's
case, he created an incredible program here at the studio with very
little fanfare. He was proud of what he and Sharon did, but didn't
need or ask for headlines. John did it because he liked to
help people, not for fanfare.
In closing I would like to say I am deeply humbled that these people
have trusted me to write John's final story. I hope they have
read this story thinking I have done justice to the memory of this
fine man. Most of all, I hope John likes it... although I am
sure he will find at least something wrong with it. ;-)
If you would like to contribute a note or a
story, please send it to
Note: I wrote an excellent story about John's
contributions to world of Waltz.
BLOOPER REEL -
If you think writing epitaphs about people you care about is easy,
you should try it sometime. But I did manage to have a light
moment. Perhaps levity has no place in this story, so forgive
me if I make a rookie mistake. I am new at this and I can't
resist sharing it with you.
Poor Sharon Shaw. You have no idea how much I love Sharon.
Sharon has been a source of strength and joy to me for twenty years.
Like I said, Sharon is the kind of human being who makes you think
humanity might actually make it to the next Millennium. She is
a delight and a credit to the human race.
In fact, I have always made note of the similarity in her name -
Sharon - and her incredible willingness to "share". Sharon is
just such a sweet lady!
That said, like John Jones, I tend more towards the grouchy side
which is one of the reasons I have identified with him so much in
this story. And I am definitely a lot meaner than Sharon.
Maybe that's why I admire Sharon so much. My role in this
relationship has always been the rotten brother playing mean tricks.
I have consistently teased this poor woman as long as I have known
her because Sharon is such a good sport. Not only that, over the
years I have kept a record of all my evil deeds here on the web
Now that Sharon is happily married, I don't tease her much anymore
mostly because her husband is bigger than me.
But I have been nursing a grudge for a long time. Back in 1989,
Sharon managed to play a wonderful Practical Joke at my 40th
Birthday Party that was so well done she basically evened the score.
I am not going to tell you what happened here, but you can read
if you wish.
I will only say that at the end of the story I vowed to get even. It
has been nearly 20 years since Sharon got me good. Many times
I have wondered if I would ever get my chance.
Now an opportunity to get back in the game has crossed my desk. You
would think out of respect for John, I would pass it up... except
that somehow I think John would appreciate it. So here we go.
VANITY, AH SWEET VANITY
vanity, without curiosity, a woman would
not be a woman. Much of her grace is in
her frailty to be beautiful at all times."
For this story on Sharon's close friend John,
Sharon as always has been unfailingly helpful to me. Sharon
has provided me all sorts of information and pictures to allow me to
do justice to John's wonderful memory. A huge flurry of emails has
passed back and forth as Sharon diligently tried to help.
And, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
I would like you to read this tale of three pictures.
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 11:33 AM
To: Sharon Shaw
Subject: RE: John's photos
I am busy wrapping up the article on John, but I
just realized I could use one more picture of you and John.
Right now the best I can do is a ski picture with your goggles on.
The ski picture is currently the lead picture for
my article about you. If you have
something better laying around, please share.
Like I said, as I was writing this story, the ski picture was the
only picture I had of Sharon and John. As you can see, John isn't
smiling, but what's new?
And like I said, my first draft of the story had that ski picture
located as the start of the "Sharon Crawford Shaw" section.
After I finished the first draft of this story, I asked Sharon to go
to the Internet and proof read it.
Maybe I shouldn't have teased her about the goggles. Or maybe
it my smiley face that did it.
"If you have something better
laying around, please share."
Sharon took my words to heart! Surely she had something
better?? But what?
In my opinion, Sharon over-reacted a bit.
Sharon took one look at that ski picture and decided it had to go.
And it had to go NOW STAT PRONTO ASAP
She began to look around for a better picture! Aha!
Found one. Now there's a great picture!
Sharon immediately sent me the new picture with this message added
From: Sharon Shaw
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2007 7:48 AM
To: Rick Archer
Rick - here is a photo of John and me together. At least it's
not that goofy ski picture.
So let's take a look at the picture Sharon
sent to replace the ski picture!
Whoa! I nearly bust a gut.
Okay, so the ski picture wasn't perfect, but how on earth did she
think this boat picture was going to be an improvement?
What was Sharon thinking?
Did she want us to be able to remember John's boat too?
So I thought about it. Maybe Sharon
wanted me to crop the boat out and do a CLOSEUP!
Yeah, that must be it.
Okay, let's try a close-up.
Now that the picture is enlarged it
becomes obvious why Sharon greatly preferred this picture
over the ski picture.
In the ski picture, Sharon was just standing there
with a stupid grin and goggles. Boring.
But now you can see Sharon's graceful wave of the
hand! And the boat is moving. It is an action photo!
And if you look carefully (use your imagination), you will see Sharon beaming! I
can't remember when I have seen her look happier than this
fond moment shared with John.
Look again carefully and see if John is frowning.
Hmm. Inconclusive evidence.
But my guess is he was frowning. What's new?
I immediately emailed Sharon back and told her
my sides hurt from laughing so hard. After the tension of
writing John's story, I needed a good laugh.
It was another classic Sharon moment.
After I teased her, Sharon thought it over and decided to try a
little harder. The next day she sent me another picture.
This time Sharon sent me a picture of
Bill, John, and Sharon. This one was pretty good.
But what about the boat picture? Tough choice.
After much thought, I decided to use this picture for
Sharon's story instead. Basically I think Sharon is
much prettier than that boat.
As you can see, John wasn't smiling, but what's new?
We don't care if John is smiling or not. We
love him anyway.
As you know from the story, it is what is inside that
And by this measure - what is inside of a man - John Jones was a very good man
hope wherever he is, John gets a smile out of this story.
Or at least maybe a happy frown.