John Maxwell Renwick
October 2, 1930 – February 14, 2020
John Maxwell Renwick was born October 2nd 1930 in Gardner, Massachusetts. He had an active childhood in nearby Athol. His father would not allow him to play indoor sports so he gravitated towards baseball and hockey, but his first love was skiing. Throughout his life he told fond stories of skiing nearby Mt. Grace.
After high school he attended the Coyne Electrical School of Boston then set out west towards the big mountains of Wyoming. After working as an electrician for small businesses in Nebraska and back in Athol for a short period, he joined the Navy with the ambition of becoming a Submariner. He first trained and served as an Interior Communications electrician (IC) on the diesel powered submarine USS Tusk. In 1953 he married childhood friend Priscilla May Clark who worked as a flight attendant and would visit him on his early stops in the Navy. They were married until 1966 and had two sons together. They maintained a friendship throughout his life.
In 1955 they traveled to Idaho Falls, Idaho where he attended the Navy’s newly formed Nuclear Operators Training Program. His performance there earned him the opportunity to be one of the initial instructors at the first formal Nuclear Power School established in New London, Connecticut. He then joined the crew of USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. The leadership of the Nautilus was so impressed with his performance, they recommended and pushed through his commissioning as a Naval Officer. He continued on to serve thirty four years in the Navy, including acting as the commanding officer of several submarines, and later transitioning into a higher level leadership position helping the governments of Colombia and Iran build submarine Navies of their own. The reason behind his success as a career Navy officer was apparent even into his last visits to Balboa Navy Medical Center where he would ask every enlisted staffer about their history in the Navy and showed great concern for their career success.
In 1967 he married Kathryn Lucille DeSwarte who swept him off his feet at a local pub in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by approaching him and asking about the dolphin patches on his uniform. They traveled the world together making stops in Hawaii, Colombia, Iran, San Diego, Honduras, and Paraguay. They had two sons. In the early 1980s they retired to San Diego, California for the “tennis weather” both being avid players. He attended the Toyota Automotive Technology Program at San Diego City Community College where he also played doubles on the tennis team. In 1987 he achieved one of his great successes in life overcoming alcohol addiction, saving his marriage and his family.
John and Kate spent the last part of their life together traveling the country in an RV and spending many summers living on the campground at Vandenberg, AFB in beautiful relative wilderness along the Central Californian coast. They shared a love of the outdoors and mountains and were avid hikers into their seventies. He remained fit and active up until the end of his life, doing countless laps around the Sea Colony neighborhood, becoming a fixture of the community. The passing of his wife broke his heart and his life was never the same. He took his last breaths on February 14th 2020, a year after her passing. He is survived by his four sons, six grandsons, four granddaughters, and one great granddaughter.
A funeral service will be held at St. Charles Borromeo Church in San Diego, CA
- Funeral Service Saturday, March 14, 2020
John Maxwell Renwick
February 20, 2020
I will always think of you and your lovely wife as my long time neighbors in Sea Colony as I drive into our alley. I miss seeing your face as you took your daily walks. I know that you are in a place where there is no more suffering and I am glad that I had the chance to share so many neighborhood memories with you and Kate over the years. Thank you for your service to our country. Rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your boys and their families. God Bless.