John Mackinney

Date of Birth

October 28th, 1931

Date of Death

September 3rd, 2018

Memorial Meeting

Berkeley Monthly Meeting


John Gordon Mackinney was born in San Francisco on October 28, 1931 to Marian Esdale, eldest daughter of a printer in Canada, and Gordon Mackinney, originally from England, professor of biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley.

John met his first wife Anne Forinash (later Anne Friend) while studying at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1953 he graduated with a BA in Physics and began work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. John and Anne married in 1954, and then moved to Washington, D.C. where they had three children, Christopher, Paul, and Ross.

In Washington, John worked for a defense contractor as a programmer and systems analyst. John and Anne became pacifists and joined the Religious Society of Friends, attending the Langley Hill Preparative Meeting in Virginia.

In 1964, the family moved back to California, near Anne's parents, Richard and Ruth Forinash, in the San Fernando Valley. The Mackinney family attended the San Fernando Friends Meeting.  John went to work at RCA, and Anne completed her undergraduate studies at San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), getting a degree in Philosophy. John and Anne separated and divorced in 1971. John's father passed away in 1972, and in 1976, John moved back to Berkeley to be nearer to his mother. He worked as a computer programmer with Bank of America, then at the State of California Compensation Insurance Fund, where he worked until his retirement.

Not long after moving to Berkeley, while attending Berkeley Friends Meeting, John met his second wife Vanita Blum Meyer. Vanita was a former "Rosie" who worked at the Richmond shipyards during WWII.  When she met John she was also divorced with four grown children, Enid, Dana, Sibyl and Evan.

She became a pacifist and eventually a member of Berkeley Friends Meeting. John joined her as a regular attender, holding a variety of service positions, including Finance committee and Ministry and Oversight.  John and Vanita were also active in College Park Quarterly Meeting and Pacific Yearly Meeting. John and Vanita were married in 1981 at Berkeley Meeting. They bought a house together in Albany, CA. After Vanita's death in 2006, John continued to live in the house, joined by his son Paul, his grandchild Hannah (Thistle West) and Paul's fiancee, Tatiana Ryevsina.

In 2012, John was diagnosed with Sezary's lymphoma, a slowly progressing cancer.

In 2016, John moved to the Timber Ridge Senior Living facility in McKinleyville, California, near his sons Christopher and Ross. Even in decline, John's blue eyes twinkled, he was unfailingly polite, his sense of humor was intact, and his mind remained inquisitive about scientific, spiritual, and social matters.

John passed peacefully in his sleep September 3rd, 2018.  He was 86 years old.  He is survived by his sons Christopher, Paul, and Ross, and his grandchildren Jesse Mackinney, Thistle West, and Grace Hoyt.