John was tall, lanky and always dressed in baggy shorts with a t-shirt, often one he designed. Funny, biting wit, all delivered by a crisp South African cadence. He was an artist, a designer, a friend- and host to many people through out the world. He passed on early this month surrounded by a small circle of closest friends, succumbing to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
He would have hated any saccharine sentimentality and would not want anyone to dwell on that, so here I am, an ocean and continent away, celebrating the colorful character I remember fondly.
John Bain was one of the first people I met during my initial adventure to Hawaii in the early 80’s. He had what seemed like the best “gig” I could imagine. John was caretaker of A.L. Kilgo‘s country home at beautiful Waimea Point, overlooking the bay on the North Shore of Oahu. He lived on the first of the three houses on the property and over saw the rental of the other two homes leading out to the point.
There was always a cute surfer or two or three, or more, staying at John’s during the fall and winter surf season and John painted many of them. Here is John’s “private gallery” at the point house and through the doorway on the left you can see small framed photos from Kilgo’s party days out at the house.
After I moved to the mainland and started our family with Scott, we had the opportunity to stay at the coveted house on Waimea Point more than once.
John was always painting, working or designing something, and his house was filled with his work and collections. During one of our visits staying at Waimea, we commissioned John to do a small portrait of each of our boys.
In my last email to John when I first learned about his illness I had Nate and Griffin pose with their portraits.
Last week, our dear mutual friend Faith Milnes, filled me in about John’s final days. I am truly sorry that he is gone, so many people loved him, myself among them. I know he leaves behind so much of himself in his friends and art, and to that I say-
To John- with love and much aloha. and Cheers!