John Spencer Myers, 66, died peacefully at home in Gerton, NC on Sunday, February 4 after battling ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. John was born March 28, 1951 in Middletown, Ohio. His parents were Frank Rathmel Myers and Patricia Wilks Myers. John lived in Middletown and Piqua, Ohio and graduated from Middletown High School in 1969. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1974 with a BS in anthropology. He obtained a masters in psychology from Rutgers University in 1976.
John was a man with numerous talents who explored many lines of work during his lifetime. He was a biofeedback therapist in NJ then worked in finance, including several years on Wall Street. He moved into the tech industry and worked at Bell Labs, and later became a skilled massage therapist and energy worker as he pursued a more spiritual path in life. John's great passion was rock climbing, and he literally climbed every rock face he could, in the US and Europe, for decades. It was through these experiences that he developed a deep love for the land, and he naturally gravitated towards work in conservation. He worked for the Trust for Public Land, the NY/NJ Trail Conference, and the Access Fund over several decades. He was instrumental in helping climbers purchase properties to obtain access to climbing areas in NY, KY, and NC
John moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina in 2000 when he reconnected with his best friend from high school, Jane Lawson, who was living in Asheville. They married in 2004. John and Jane, with a lot of help from many others, bought land in Hickory Nut Gorge and created the Hickory Nut Forest Eco-Community and Laughing Waters Retreat Center. Recently John was honored by Conserving Carolina for his land stewardship efforts in the gorge, specifically for spearheading the trail system through his property that loops through the upper gorge and will eventually connect to other trails down to Chimney Rock State Park, and for placing 73 acres of his property in conservation easement. Conserving Carolina dedicated the Little Bearwallow Falls rock face to John as a climbing site for rock and ice climbing. John's love for the land and his spiritual connection to it inspired many who knew him.
John is survived by his wife Jane Lawson of Gerton, NC; his stepson Jack Wedthoff of Asheville, NC; his sister and brother-in-law Kathy and Richard Patten of Piqua, Ohio; his niece Cindy Patten Stanard and her family of Cincinnati, Ohio; and his nephew Joe Patten and his family, also of Cincinnati.
There will be a celebration of his life at Laughing Waters in Gerton on Saturday, February 17. A ceremony honoring him will begin at 4:00 PM, and a festive celebration will begin at 6:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to one or more of these wonderful organizations: Conserving Carolina, Our Voice, the YWCA of Asheville, the Lord's Acre, or Care Partners Hospice of Asheville.