In Memory

John Bardi

John Francis Bardi died on September 24, 2020 at his home in Ventura, California.He was born May 24, 1947. He is survived by his wife, Amy, his four children, Ty, Jason, Andy, and Ariel, and his two grandchildren, Georgia and Zack.

John’s lifelong passions were music and teaching. John picked up his first guitar as a teenager. By the time he’d graduated high school, he and his brother, Julian, had released several singles as the “Dagenites” (named after their mother’s hometown of Dagenham, London). John would spend the next six decades playing music, both in bands and as a solo artist, and was well known in his communities as a brilliant guitarist.

The first member of his family to graduate from college, John earned a bachelor's degree from Frostburg State University, a master's degree from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Missouri. John would go on to work for the University of Maryland’s overseas program in Japan and the UK, where he taught philosophy to off-duty US service members, as well as Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He spent the final twenty-five years of his teaching career at Penn State’s Mont Alto campus, where his colleagues voted him teacher of the year multiple times before his retirement in 2017. John loved being a teacher, and took immense pride in the number of former students who contacted him over the years to thank him for being such a profound inspiration. 

In the late 1990s, John decided to start a cable access TV show on the ACTV public channel in Gettysburg, Pennslyvania. The “John Show,” which ran for over a decade and became a community staple, was an irreverent sci-fi-themed mashup of political commentary, philosophy, and rock guitar. In 2018 he published a novel, "Conversations with a Philosopher from Another Planet," which he based on the key themes and concepts from the John Show. Prior to his death, John had been brainstorming how to bring the show back on YouTube. 

For those of us who knew him, it’s impossible to capture what he was about in a few paragraphs. But we’re hoping this site will allow us to collect everyone’s memories in one place so that we can, collectively, begin to tell the story of the legendary John Bardi.

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11/24/20 05:04 PM #1    

Robert Newman

John Bardi (1947-2020)

     The scene: Emory Trosper's Peking Duck Extravaganza in August, 1982 (aka, Asian Division Orientation in Tokyo). This was the first time we met the Bardis (John [JB], Abby, Ariel, Andy), and my life was never the same. We were to be the "Two Families" in the UMUC World on Okinawa, but we shared so much more in terms of our political, intellectual, and recreational preferences.


     JB was a political philosopher and inspired the intellectual life on The Island. He and our Area Director, Dr. Lois Mohr, organized Friday "brown bags" for group consideration of issues like the "aftermath" of the War in Vietnam, the Kennedy Assassination (lead by JFK scholar and UMUC colleague John Newman), the "Reagan Revolution", US covert operations in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and the future of Democratic Socialism.


     On the recreational and MWR front, JB was one of the architects of softball competition on The Island. We have now lost our first base person, Robert Hairston, our second base person, Sebia Hawkins, our right field person, Tom Robinson, and our shortstop (JB). JB and I organized a running group, which specialized in running the "donkey paths" of Okinawa. JB was the lead organizer of a three-on-three basketball team, which competed against other Air Force entities on Okinawa, and our "third" was Pat Clifford, now a successful Canadian solicitor.


     After the group moved on in 1984 (Orwellian context strictly inadvertent), Lela (age 11) and I visited the Bardis in 1986 in the beautiful Cotswold community of Bibury (see Abby's contribution for more details). In 1988, JB visited us in Austin, Texas, the importance of which is that JB had always been a huge fan of the Texas blues guitar tradition (T-Bone Walker, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn). Then on one memorable night on (famous) Sixth Street in Downtown Austin, he got to experience the Austin music scene at extremely close range, and I was always delighted to have given him that experience.


     In the 1990's, I was able to visit JB in West Virginia (Shepherdstown/ Shepherd's College), Maryland (Hagerstown/ Frostburg State), and Pennsylvania (Gettysburg, Penn State Mont Alto). I once experienced JB teaching a class at his home outside of Gettysburg in Men's Studies, which had been popularized by Robert Bly's Iron John, and I was delighted that I was able to see how JB had polished his teaching style of combining humour, music and intellectual whimsy into a a hybrid which reminded me of Hermann Hesse's "Glass Bead Game".


     I have forced myself to be succinct. JB was a charismatic philosopher, and my life was vastly better for knowing him.


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