Remembering John Van Sciver

A man and woman sitting at a table with drinks.

John Wesley Van Sciver, beloved by many, passed away in May of this year. Since his birthday was December 21, 1945, this seems a fitting opportunity to celebrate his life once again. Among his many achievements, John was the first President of City Park Friends and Neighbors (CPFAN). He was the steadying and visionary voice that set the fledgling City Park advocacy group (founded in 2014) in motion.

John loved adventure and the outdoors from an early age. His wife, Carolyn remembers one story he told often. When John was 16 and standing night watch on his father’s sailboat anchored in the Bahamas, he was drinking in the star-filled sky above him and the school of dolphins jumping around the boat when the radio played “Sherry can you come out tonight (Why don’t you come on, come out) To my twist party, (Come out) Where the bright moon shines (Come out) We’ll dance the night away, I’m gonna make you mine.†These were the words to The Four Seasons’ newly released single, Sherry and this was John Van Sciver’s kind of night.

Adventure followed him as John began his working life. He served in the USAF, first on an isolated island at the western tip of the Aleutian Islands that was just south of the Arctic Circle and within sight of Russia and next in Aviano, Italy, an air base near Yugoslavia. In both places he used his engineering skills to surveil missile activity. After the Air Force, John worked as a Senior Engineer for Martin Marietta Aeorspace Corporation. Because he wanted to have more access to the outdoors, he next took a job in Denver as a dam safety inspector for the Colorado State Engineer’s Office. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Credit Union of Colorado for 36 years.

John met Carolyn Barr at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources where she drew geologic maps and he was a water engineer. Reflecting their mutual passion for the adventurous life, John and Carolyn married in 1999 at the top of the Loveland Ski Area. Their life together included plenty of skiing, hiking, traveling and back packing. They celebrated their happy marriage and renewed their vows back on the top of Loveland 20 years later.

The couple made their home in the Denver neighborhood of Congress Park where John became a passionate spokesperson for neighborhood conservation issues. As a  member of Congress Park Neighborhood Association, he led successful efforts to protect his neighborhood through effective zoning. Because of his affection for City Park where he and Carolyn walked and cross country skied, John also lead efforts to oppose the implementation of the City Park Loop Playground in 2013-14. Known for his concise, science-based speaking style, John made many presentations questioning the need for a detention pond in the City Park Golf Course, the excavation of the 39th St. Ditch and the Globeville Landing Outfall, all projects stemming from the expansion of the I-70 Highway through the GES neighborhoods. His voice, backed by his experience as a water engineer was widely respected.

John Van Sciver is survived by his wife, Carolyn and daughters, Rebecca and Sarah. He is remembered fondly by his many friends. Park and neighborhood activist, Tom Morris says, “John was there. When things needed to be done, John was ALWAYS there.†Chair of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation’s Parc Committee, Maggie Price adds: “John was always willing to share his engineering knowledge and expertise and did so with his RNO Congress Park Neighbors when questions started arising during the I-70 expansion and as a panelist for INC’s forum Platte To Park Hill Storm Water Diversion and the 1-70 Expansion.†CPFAN member, Phil Hainline remembers “a gracious, thoughtful man. He was a great communicator and he understood group dynamics.†We were all lucky to know John and he will be remembered well and often.

Enjoy this video of John delivering introductory remarks at the INC Panel Forum, Platte to Park Hill Storm Water Diversion and the 1-70 Expansion. This is Quintessential John Van Sciver!


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