June 19, 1942 - March 22, 2020 John D. Day, a long time Skagit Valley resident, Spanish teacher and soccer coach at Burlington-Edison High School, passed away at his Burlington home on March 22 at the age of 77, after an 11 month fight with pancreatic cancer. John was born in the aftermath of the Great Depression in Konawa, OK, where both parents, Joe Rumsey Day and Helen Nevitt Day, were teachers. The young family came to Washington in 1944, and initially stayed on Capitol Hill in Seattle, in a large home with John's grandmother. Within a year, John's father was hired to a teaching and coaching position in Burlington, and the Days moved there. While in Burlington, John attended the town's first kindergarten, organized by mothers and held in the town's fire station. He later attended first grade taught by Lucille Umbarger. In 1949, the Days moved to Mount Vernon where John's father assumed teaching and coaching positions and John attended grade school and graduated from high school in 1960. John excelled in athletics from an early age. He won the state free-throw competition at the age of 15. He starred on Mount Vernon's football, basketball and baseball teams from his sophomore year on and earned conference and state recognition. He turned down pro baseball overtures in favor of football and baseball scholarships at U.S.C. and Washington State University. It was at WSU where he met his future wife, Maria C. Gomez Bello, a student from Argentina. They were married in 1967, after John served an Army tour of duty in Vietnam. He earned his teaching degree at Western Washington University in 1968, followed up by a Master's Degree later on. He taught one year in Anacortes and then moved to Burlington-Edison High School where he inspired students to learn about the Spanish language and culture, and to excel in sports, until his retirement. A passionate global citizen, John spent his retirement traveling to Europe, Asia, Mexico and South America. He particularly enjoyed his time in Australia, where he marveled at nature and explored the Great Barrier Reef comparing it with his beloved San Juan Islands. The couple spent 6 winters in La Cumbre, Argentina, where they made many lifelong friends. Once grandchildren arrived, John and Maria spent their winters in Green Valley, Arizona, so they could be closer to their family, where they continued to make numerous new friends. John will be remembered as a free spirit. He loved competition with others and with himself. Trophies and medals were not his upmost goals; instead, he loved preparing to compete, learning from results, pushing himself to excel both mentally and physically, taking all his sports and activities to new levels, be it golf, pool, dieting and exercise, or any other challenge he could create. He also participated in fun runs and marathons and up until his diagnosis in April, 2019, he enjoyed biking trips, swimming and SCUBA diving. John was a profuse reader, a passionate, witty, well-informed spokesman for political and social issues, sports and many relevant topics; most of all, John will be remembered as a caring teacher, a dependable friend, a loyal family man, a great husband, an outstanding father, and a superb grandfather. John was preceded in death by his parents and his younger sister, Jo Ellen Keating. Apart from his wife, John is survived by their two sons, JJ (Alfonsina) and Jamie (Liz), who live in the Seattle area. John is also survived by older brother James of Plovdiv, Bulgaria; sister Janet Minegishi, Tokyo; younger brother Donald, Mount Vernon; by grandsons Sebastian and Nathan Day, Issaquah; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. There will be a celebration of life scheduled after the risk posed by the pandemic subsides. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Skagit Regional Cancer Care Center, Hospice of the Northwest, and/or Soroptomist International of Anacortes.
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