Deceased January 31, 2021

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In Memory

John Stookey conquered all that came within his sight and he looked around for more, but the virus struck. He died Jan. 31, two days after his 91st birthday, comfortably, with loving family and favorite music.

In business, no hidden asset was safe from John’s development energies. As chairman of National Distillers, he auctioned its liquor brands at handsome profit and molded the strong energy firm Quantum. He served on 25 corporate boards.

A life trustee of the Boston Symphony, John launched his own musical ventures. In 1982, he founded Berkshire Choral International, a summer camp for choristers like himself. He rented a prep school campus and engaged orchestra musicians, renowned conductors and soloists. We’d rehearse a major work all week to sing Saturday night. Ultimately, thousands sang everywhere. John was a driving force in rehabilitating the rundown Mahaiwe theater in Great Barrington, Mass. He recruited a Juilliard professor for lectures keyed to the Metropolitan Opera’s HD telecasts.

Appy, the former Katherine Emory and John’s wife of 66 years, was a chorus singer too. For her 50th birthday, John sprang for a performance, by musical friends, of her beloved Brahms Requiem in a Southport, Conn., church. Appy promptly joined the sopranos. 

Public service? In 1991, John created Landmark Volunteers to connect high schoolers to service organizations. In 1994, he launched Per Scholas, a Bronx nonprofit that opened tuition-free technology training to 12,000 students for permanent jobs. 

What about his free time? He started competitive rowing at Amherst. He canoed, rowed, flew, sailed the coast and paddled rivers, canals and lakes. There’s much more.

In addition to Appy, John leaves daughters Helen Jones and Laura Johnson, sons Hunt and Anson, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial is scheduled for Sept. 25 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. 

Jack MacKenzie ’52