Lifelong Seattleite John Alfred Gessner passed away peacefully on May 24, 2015. Born at Seattle General Hospital on September 14, 1940 to Johanna Dickson Gessner and Alfred Michael Gessner.
Growing up he attended John Hay Elementary School and went on to Queen Anne High School (Class of ’58). While attending high school, John had many titles. Editor of the school newspaper, KUAY, was his favorite. He was part of the Boys Club Council, Officer of the German Club and School band member. He was a true Grizzly. John attended the University of Washington where he was an art major.
In 1962 at the Seattle World’s Fair, John was the operator of the “Bubbleator.” He wore a silver space age costume (see photo). At the 2012 Fiftieth Anniversary of the World’s Fair, John wore his original costume and was frequently photographed at the event.
John had a natural eye for beauty. He worked many years for Crissey Flowers beginning in high school, continuing on through the 1960’s. John’s specialty was creating floral decorations for public venues and private home events. In the 1970’s, John owned and operated The Atrium Plant and Ceramic Gallery in the University District.
John was always an active volunteer. In the mid-'80s he began his journey with Seattle AIDS Support Group and then with Health Information Network as an administrative assistant where he served for the next 23 years.
Both Queen Anne and Uptown neighborhoods benefitted from John’s volunteerism. In the days of neighborhood themed flower-covered floats in the annual Seafair parade, John designed and decorated winning floats for Queen Anne. Myrtle Edwards Beach was a favorite gathering place for John and friends. When he saw the need for organized cleanups there, he began the first “Friends of” group through the City of Seattle “Adopt-A-Park” program. Additionally, the city-wide Anti-Graffiti Task Force and “Good Neighbors” meetings with Seattle Center staff benefitted from John’s concerns and skills at organizing activists. He was an early member of the Uptown Alliance and led special events such as rummage sales, clothing exchanges and decorating for Uptown celebrations.
In lieu of services, John asked that friends take a casual stroll past important landmarks from his life: John Hay Elementary School, Queen Anne High School, Counterbalance Park, Myrtle Edwards Beach and Discovery Park.