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Walter "John" Hockaday II (1933-2022)
John Hockaday passed away Saturday morning, February 19th. More about John Hockaday: Click Here
He was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and came to Pomona, California, at the young age of 3. He attended Hamilton Elementary, Fremont Jr. High, and Pomona High School in Pomona, CA. He was an athlete and his PHS football team won the CIF championship.
After high school, he started his plastering career as a hod-carrier, worked his way up to plasterer, and later, as a plasterer contractor. He owned his own company, Tri City Plastering. He contracted to jobs In Denver, San Diego, and areas around Los Angeles.
In addition, he has been a carpenter, rancher, gardener, bee-keeper, antique collector, avid photographer, researcher, historian, poet and author.
For the most part, John was self-taught. He never felt that he had a good understanding of reading and writing, yet his interest in history, especially Route 66 and Cajon Pass, resulted in him writing and illustrating several books in his later life and becoming an active member in the High Desert Silver Lakes writing group.
He referred to himself as "just an old construction worker who likes history". He is an accomplished photographer and historical researcher; his specialty was anything to do with Cajon Pass and Route 66, including the ancient native american and old Spanish trails that ran thorugh that area in the southern California region.
John has written articles for various magazines and the San Bernardino Sun newspaper. In addition, he participated in the National Park Service's mapping project of the "Old Spanish Trail", and has lead a number of educational tours along Route 66 through Cajon Pass.
John became a renown history expert on the Cajon Pass and the Route 66 segment that passes through the area. After decades of doing research and talking with the old time residents of the area and other historians on various aspects of the pass, he wrote two books covering the history of Cajon Pass and the men who built it as a major transportation corridor: "The Man Who Built Camp Cajon” and “From Indian Footpath to Modern Highway.”
Needless to say, John was a very talented and resourceful person and lived a productive and multi-faceted life and loved his family roots. He was a wonderful story teller and knew so much about the Loofbourrow and Hockaday families. His most recent book, “Just Something I Did Once,” is an amazing collection of stories and history. One can hear his voice and visualize his mannerisms while reading the book and looking at all of the old photos included in the book.
John was a fixture in Lytle Creek for decades; often seen dining at Melody's. He appeared on the national news when successfully saving his home from flames during the Blue Cut Fire in 2016. He was a wonderful Father, to not only his two children, but also helped raise other children later in his life and often lent a helping hand to others. He lived with his daughter, Frankie, in Pomona the last few years of his life.
He is survived by daughter, Frankie Hockaday; sister, Margie Kinnaman; and granddaughter, Jesse Fowler. His son, John Hockaday III, and his wife, Sandie, are deceased.
John lived a full life and there is so very much more to share. Please leave your own comments or remembrances below. In a few weeks, we will update information here.
A poem John wrote a couple decades ago:
When it came to retiring Here’s what he had to say: It’s something you can do more than once And in a lot of different ways. But sometimes just thinking about it Can get you in one hell of a mess. You might find yourself on a new quest With a lot more time to get A lot less done While racing along with the sun Some people start each day with nothing to do And have it half done by noon. But that wasn’t for Old Slim, I guess He sometimes didn’t get started ’til noon But still loved a good quest. He said, “All you are is what you’ve done, So, you better stay busy before the sun sinks too low Or you might end up with nothing to show.” He lived his life Not like some of the rest Right or wrong he did things The way he felt it was best. When it comes to Old Slim A lot more could be said He didn’t really retire ‘Til his life was all done. He’d run a hell of a race With that old setting sun.