John was born to John Killian and Rosemary Van Rensselaer in Port Clinton, Ohio. While John and his sisters were young, the family moved west and settled in Torrance, Calif.
During his youth, the family spent most weekends and summers vacationing at Lake Isabella. During this time his love for the lake and all the bass it had to offer, were formed.
After working for Rubbercraft for several years, John moved to Kernville where he purchased and ran the Wofford Heights Chevron. His motto in business was, “Treat every customer like they are your best and only customer, and you’ll never have a problem.”
In the early 1980s, he was on a search and rescue mission and they flew into a box canyon. He was the only survivor of that crash, thanks to a faithful friend and rescuer, Brad. Recovery was a long and hard process, but, for those of you who knew him, John was a very determined man. It took years but he made a full recovery and went on to be a deputy coroner for the Kern County Sheriff’s Department where he retired in 2011.
John loved everything outdoors, and fishing was his favorite. From Albacore on the ocean to bass on the lake, men yelling “hook up” and the spin of the reel were music to his ears. Hunting deer and elk were also a big part of his life.
John leaves behind to cherish his memory, his wife Michelle, son Jon Preston Van Rensselaer (Stacey), daughters, Amee Smith (Rusty), Lauren Harper, Emily Van Rensselaer, step daughter Grace Harper, Granddaughters Roree and Rylee Smith, Mother in law Jacqueline Harper, sisters Sandy Myers (Don) and Pamela Van Rensselaer, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at the Kern Christian Center, 4701 Gosford Road, Bakersfield, Calif., 93313.