John David Leaman died peacefully on April 5.

Born on May 27, 1927, he was raised in Lititz, a small town in the rolling hills of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. His father Benjamin was a grocer; his mother Dolly played piano.

John was posted at the weather station in Panama during the Korean War. As a corporal and correspondent for Runway, he wrote a popular column under the name Rey Island Ray.

After the war he attended Gettysburg College, then Union Theological Seminary, intending to become a minister — but journalism must have taken hold of him. Naturally inquisitive and amiable, he was a born reporter.

John was managing editor of Footwear News when he met Robin Lobeck. Both were on vacation on Monhegan Island off Maine, but discovered they lived blocks apart back in Manhattan’s East Village. Her father, Packard Lobeck, owned a cottage in Oak Bluffs. John and Robin married in 1961; they raised their two daughters, Jessica and Sarah, in New York, but made sure their girls made it to the Vineyard every summer. A country boy at heart, John loved exploring, birdwatching, and fishing on the Vineyard, especially with his daughters, and eventually with his grandchildren too.

In later years John was diagnosed with asthma. Finding little support for asthmatics in the city, he founded the Asthma/Emphysema Self-Help Group of New York, and published a monthly newsletter, Respiratory News and Views, creating a vital network for respiratory patients and doctors.

Robin died in 2015. In November 2018, John married Jean Vogrin, whom he had dated in New York in the 1950s, and they moved to Medford, N.J. John was looking forward to his new adventure, though he knew his health was declining.

He loved cooking, playing games (especially Parcheesi), eating fresh corn, and hearing about people’s lives. Even a few days before his death he was asking hospital workers about their jobs, how they did on their exams, etc., and making them laugh.

In addition to his second wife, he is survived by his daughters Jessica and Sarah, and two grandchildren. He is sorely missed by all.