Born in Monessen, Pennsylvania on November 24, 1928, the son of the late James W. Auther and Frances M. Shipe, John Auther mostly grew up in Aurora, Illinois, raised with his spirited brother, Brudd, who preceded him in death. He would recount how he quarterbacked his high school to a perfect record, defeating their crosstown archrivals on Thanksgiving Day 1946. The coach of that team, Ken Zimmerman, John credited as the greatest influence in his life.
Two years before that triumphant game, he had gone on a first date with the girl who would become the love of his life Sarah (Sally) Greene. She would be at his side for the next 80 years. At the age of 20, he lost his father to a heart attack but managed to graduate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with his classmates. A stint in the Army followed during which the young officer married Sally and the first of their eight children was born.
Mustering out of the Army, the young family decided that they would not return to live in Illinois but headed out West. On the way to California, they stopped in Phoenix to visit relatives and, almost as a lark, John looked for a job. Through a fraternity (Phi Gamma Delta) connection, he landed work with Coldwell Banker recently expanding for the first time out of California. Many phone calls began with his being asked which bank he worked for until the bright young men who made up the early sales force (and who would become his lifelong friends) established CB as a huge presence in commercial real estate in the Phoenix area. Switching to development years later, he worked very happily with Westcor. With them, he helped to develop some of the most prominent shopping centers in the area. Retiring before he was 60, he enjoyed living many months a year in places like the San Juan Islands and Laguna Beach. But Phoenix was always his home.
An avid tennis player well into his 80s, he never looked his age. The passion with which he played tennis was only matched by the passion he felt for his family and his Catholic faith. His children were all sent to Catholic grade and high schools. He coached teams, attended hundreds of games, gathered his family around the dinner table every night, and managed to survive family vacations towing eight kids to California for a couple of weeks each summer.
He was a Knight of Malta, served one term as the President of the Serra Club, helped with fund-raising at Brophy Prep and St. Francis Xavier Parish, was on the committee for Pope Saint John Paul II’s visit to Phoenix and involved himself in many other Church-related activities.
A husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a mentor, a friend, he will be missed by his children Patty (John Lewis, deceased), Jim (Cathy), Dave (Kim), John, SJ, Tom (Ana), Mike (Tammy), Joe (Carol), and Sue (Gary Andres), and by his 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren and the many other friends whose lives he touched with his generous and long life. He considered himself the luckiest man alive and we who knew him shared richly in that luck!
Visitation will be held on Thursday, August 31, 2023 from 4-7PM with prayer service and eulogies at 5:30PM at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. Mass to be celebrated on Friday, September 1, 2023 at 1:30PM at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 4715 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.
Private burial at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to St. Francis Xavier School, 4715 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012.