John Deaver

From the Chicago Tribune:

John W. Deaver
1953 - 2006

In free time, attorney was a novelist, actor, musician

By Joan Giangrasse Kates
Special to the Tribune
Published July 6, 2006

After being diagnosed with cancer last month, attorney John W. Deaver sent an e-mail thanking co-workers for their support and expressing the optimism and confidence they'd come to expect of him over the last two years.

"He told them that God willing, he'd be back in the office soon, and that never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he'd have such a wonderful job or that he'd find so much happiness in life," recalled his wife of three years, Barbara. "He'd just found out he had cancer, and yet he still felt so fortunate."

For nearly two years, Mr. Deaver also was an active member of the Steel Beam Theater in St. Charles, where he had played bit parts in its past four productions.

"John was one of the kindest, gentlest people I've ever known," said Donna Steele, the artistic director of the Steel Beam Theater. "He was intelligent and creative. He was also an endearing character, the type of person you rarely meet in life but are certain you'll never forget."

Mr. Deaver, 53, of West Chicago, a litigation attorney for CNA Insurance in Chicago, died Monday, July 3, in his home following a recent surgery.

Born in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Deaver grew up in St. Louis, where he received both a bachelor and law degree from Washington University. He also took graduate courses at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Oxford University in England.

For many years, Mr. Deaver was a freelance legal auditor in St. Louis before joining the legal staff at the downtown headquarters of CNA Insurance in Chicago about two years ago.

"John was the antithesis of many attorneys," said colleague David Dong, the director of legal services at CNA. "He had not a jaded bone in his body and never came to work for the almighty dollar. He'd get frustrated and angered by any injustice he saw in the legal system."

At the Steel Beam Theater, Mr. Deaver performed in productions of "Amadeus," "Christmas Story," "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Our Town."

"He had really grown as an actor over the past several months," said Steele. "No matter how challenging the role, he was always willing to jump in with both feet."

In recent years, Mr. Deaver had written many short stories and a suspense novel. He had also taught himself how to play everything from Beethoven and Bach to Pink Floyd on guitar.

"He was always busy burning the candle at both ends, but he loved every minute," said his wife.

Other survivors include his mother, Irene; a sister, Janet Smith; two stepsons, Ervin Gockley and Will Gockley; two stepdaughters, Marianne Bellot and Malinda Gockley; and seven stepgrandchildren.

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