Tragically on this day in 2017, one of our best friend’s died in a scuba accident. John Diehl left behind his wife Meg and 5 children.
John inspired us all to take risks and live an adventurous life – loving God and loving others.
At the celebration of his life last summer, his wife Meg shared an incredible tribute to him. We were all so in awe of what she shared and that she was able to share at all.
Meg Diehl’s Tribute to John:
For John, the journey was always an adventure.
What you are seeing and hearing in all these anecdotes and stories is how in every facet of his life, for John, the journey was an adventure. It was true for him in business. It was true in how he saw the world….full of possibilities. It was true of how he walked with God. It was true in his daily life. It was true in how he approached raising our children…they were one of his greatest adventures. It was no less true in how he loved me.
On The Last Two Years
About two and a half years ago, John had just finished helping build and sell his second company, Blacksand Technologies, and instead of jumping into the next job or venture, he decided to take some time off to consider what he was going to do next and to take some family adventures. Yes, you heard me correctly, he decided to take some time off. He gave himself a year. Who does that? Especially someone like him.
One of the things we did in that time was take an epic train trip as a family. We started in Austin and trained all the way out to the West coast, down to San Diego. After a week there, we went up the California coast to Portland for a week and then down to Yosemite for a week, training back out from there to Iowa in time for my dad’s 90th birthday.
For our trip each one of us had an REI backpack to carry all our things, and a blanket rolled up and tied on the bottom. We carried all we had on our backs and trekked.
On Public Transportation
Our kids learned to use every public transportation known to man, how to travel in a new city, get to know the lay of the land, seek out places they wanted to go to, and join in the things we wanted to do.
On the train rides, JR would grab a table in the lounge car and set up his laptop and do everything from gaming to coding. Sarah and Henry and Grace would be at another table, rotating in playing different card games with everyone who wanted to in the lounge car. And Scott would alternately hole up and sleep or read until he would wake up and wonder what there was to eat. He and JR would stay up into the early hours of the morning and talk to the people they affectionately named the “train crazies”.
We took the kids on hikes that became infamous for our lack of planning and epic miscalculations. Google maps apparently fails to account for elevation. We saw the Sequoias in Yosemite with some finagling and perseverence on the very last night before they were going to close for years of renovation and restoration of the groves. I think we were the last family out. The kids spent some fabulous time in some fabulous places with the outdoors as their playground.
On Pursuing Each Other
In that same year that John wanted to spend time pursuing family adventures, he also wanted to pursue adventure with me. Every Wednesday, while the kids were in school, for more than a year we would go out and do things. At 40-something with 5 kids it was like we were teenagers again. We had no right to be having as much fun as we were having, but why not?! We biked the greenbelt, we went to movies at Alamo Drafthouse, we at burgers and green chile queso fries at Hop Doddy, or brushfire tacos with chips and queso at Torchy’s on South First. We paddleboarded, biked Town Lake across the new boardwalk and into the city. We drank iced tea at Cenote, ate food on the outdoor patio at the JW. We enjoyed gorgeous weather. We built bookshelves from scratch, woodworked, painted, built, restored, crafted, and made. We enjoyed each other and enjoyed some more.
We took three different 3-4 day trips just the two of us. We listened to all kinds of live music, over a 4-day period at SXSW. We saw 20 different shows and spent only $40…that was John Diehl. I snuck us in to see Imagine Dragons and Coldplay, by playing his naive wife. We biked down to countless ACL acts over the years. He took me with him in everything he did. If I didn’t go, he’d come back and tell me all about it. He loved to tell the story, and he loved to be with me. He wanted to show me. He wanted me to see and love what he saw and loved in the world. The journey was an absolute adventure. Everything has been with him.
On The Adventure of Truly Living
I think there is something on offer to each one of us. There is a piece of adventure on offer to me and to you…For me, I’m taking up the very tangible fact that God loves me, he looks at me, he enjoys me, he is captivated by me the way John was. I’ve seen it…felt it. I’ve been loved and pursued and known. It truly is infectious, winsome. I don’t think John knew how to do that on his own. I think he got that from the one whose image he bears. He got that from his Father, God.
I’m not sure what comes next. In any good adventure, you never really know.
What I do know is death is never the end of the story. There is always life.
John lived a fully adventurous, undefeated life.
I charge you…enjoy the adventure of life.