After a long and active life, John Pepper, 96, died at home in Jackson, N.H., on Nov. 10, 2021, surrounded by family.
John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Alice Pepper; and his daughter Sarah Isberg and her husband, Roger; and son Brian Pendleton and his wife, Darchelle Worley.
He also leaves six grandchildren, Rowan, Bridget, Kirsten and Silas Gill and David and Daniel Pendleton; a nephew Rob Pepper; and niece Randy Pepper.
John was predeceased in 2017 by his son Eric Pendleton.
John was born May 8, 1925, in Newton, Mass., to Benjamin Ward Pepper and Esther Harrod Pepper.
After public schools in Newton, John attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where he acquired a love of learning and debate and developed friendships which would last throughout his lifetime. He was a competitive swimmer at Exeter and remained an active alumnus of PEA until his passing.
He graduated in 1943 at the height of World War II, then joined the Navy and received a BA in naval science from Tufts University before deploying to Guam to guard supplies (including “acres and acres of beer”) for the invasion of Japan.
After the Navy, John earned a second degree at Tufts, and then followed in his father’s footsteps and went to work in the insurance industry. He worked one year in New York City before returning to work in Boston, where he shared an apartment on Beacon Street with a group of friends. He bought a home in Marblehead, Mass., in 1955, where he lived for the next three decades.
In 1967, John married Alice Pendleton, of Jackson, N.H, whom he met while skiing at Wildcat Mountain, and acquired a family, which included Alice’s three teenage children, Brian, Sarah and Eric, and one large collie named Ninette. John advanced through the ranks in the insurance industry, becoming chief operating officer of the Boston office of Frank B Hall, Inc until he retired in 1984.
After retirement, John and Alice moved to Alice’s family home in Jackson, though he and Alice continued to travel to Boston once a month to attend concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, nurturing their shared love of classical music for more than 50 years.
They maintained a busy schedule of skiing in the winter, sailing in the summer, gardening and community involvement. They were active members of the White Mountain Milers and the New England Ski Museum, where John was a director for many years. They competed on the Sise Cup masters ski racing circuit every winter. John and Alice also enjoyed traveling to Europe for hiking, bicycling, and visiting gardens.
John was known for his dedication to outdoor physical activity and his devotion to the people with whom he shared his passions. He made lifelong friends at virtually every stage of his life, greeting them whether on the slopes of Wildcat or the coast of Maine with his trademark yodel "Hupdiddlyodeeyo-teeyodelliyodeliyo.”
John was an early and beloved member of the White Mountain Ski Runners aka the "White Mules" ski club, and with them organized the first charter ski flight to Europe in 1954.
He instilled and encouraged a love for hiking and skiing in his children and grandchildren, together with Alice leading them up the summits of the New Hampshire 4,000-footers and down the trails of Wildcat Mountain during their formative years.
Recognizing a good deal when he saw one, John bought a lifetime pass to Wildcat when he was in his 30s and skied on it for 50 years, completing approximately 12,000 top to bottom runs on the mountain during that time.
John was a member of the Eastern Yacht Club since 1957, and for several decades spent weeks every summer sailing down the coast of Maine on the "Keewaydin" with Alice, joined by friends, or children and grandchildren on occasion, visiting islands and gardens, swimming every morning rain or shine and buying dinner from passing lobster boats whenever possible.
Inspired to take up running by a family friend, John ran three marathons and five half-marathons in his 50s and 60s then switched to bicycling for another 25 years. When he could no longer cycle he switched to walking and became a familiar sight to residents of the Black Mountain triangle and the Carter Notch Road. Pragmatic that way, John was willing to exchange one activity for another as he grew older, taking up each one with his characteristic energy and enthusiasm.
His favorite way to spend a winters day in his 80s was to ski eight nonstop runs at Wildcat, followed by an hour of cross-country skiing in Jackson, and then swimming laps in an outdoor heated pool at Attitash. He and Alice became avid golfers and continued to play into their 90s.
John was always liberal with his time and energy, supporting Alice in her various pursuits and faithfully nurturing children and grandchildren as they moved into adulthood. He was a caring, generous and wise head of his family for more than half a century and we will never forget him.
There will be a celebration of life at the Jackson Community Church on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in John’s name to the Friends of the Jackson Public Library, P.O. Box 276, Jackson, NH, 03846, jacksonlibrary.org.