The world of ufology and the Center for UFO Studies lost a lion this past weekend as John P. Timmerman passed away on Sunday at Indian Lake, Ohio. John served in the Army in World War II, and is mentioned as one of the notable alumni of Cornell University’s Sphinx Head Society, that school’s oldest senior honor society, a recognition accorded those men and women who evince strength of character as well as leadership and service. John continued to demonstrate these qualities throughout later life. A successful businessman, John owned the John P. Timmerman Company, a primarily Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning firm, from 1960 until 1982. He was also Vice President of Marketing and Savings Officer of a Savings & Loan, and for 27 years served on the Board of Trustees of the local public library. John was a pianist, singer, and choir leader with numerous groups, and Linda and I were fortunate enough to receive some of the “Carol Cards” he wrote for family and friends at Christmastime.
We of course remember John through ufology, which captured his interest while at Cornell in 1947. Returning to Lima, Ohio and his father’s business, John helped in a brief study by some professors in the Engineering department at Ohio Northern University, and later for a time was a member of NICAP, but his lasting involvement with the field came after he sold his company and offered his assistance to Dr. J. Allen Hynek as an investigator. Not long after this, Hynek made John Treasurer of his Center for UFO Studies, and in that role John usually presided over CUFOS Board Meetings. For 12 years John traveled with the CUFOS UFO Photo Exhibit, which visited 95 malls in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, and Canada. During that period John collected stories from those who came to view the exhibit, and made over 800 tape recordings of those tales. He became impressed with the fact that people from all walks of life were seriously reporting similar UFO experiences. John said, as can be experienced in Darryl Barker’s Touring UFO Photo Exhibit - John P.Timmerman 1999 CUFOS Interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz1lGtsO2hY:
People were seeing essentially the same group of phenomena, the same type of stuff seems to be seen, worldwide. Now what does it represent? Do I believe in that stuff? I’ve had people ask me, “Do you believe in all this stuff?” I said, “Well, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think there was something to it.” Now either these things are real as people describe them, or there’s something very important in the minds of people that we should be examining, because they’re all telling the same strange stories.
Dr. Michael Swords, longtime CUFOS Board Member and great friend of John, with John’s blessing and the hard work of Kathryn Diehl and Sharon Stoyanovich, collated the 1179 more substantial reports, classified them, analyzed them for patterns, and authored and illustrated Grass Roots UFOs: Case Reports from the Timmerman Files (Fund for UFO Research, 2005). In his tribute today (July 15, 2015) to John in The Biggest Study http://thebiggeststudy.blogspot.com, Mike says “Writing that book for John was the finest thing that I ever did in UFOlogy, as it made him so happy.”
And that may be perhaps the most impressive thing about John P. Timmerman: his love of family and friends made us all a little better. He was one of the first real UFO notables to befriend and support our efforts in leading the Michigan state MUFON organization. John journeyed up to Lansing to speak at one of our State Meetings, and came back again to hear Peter Davenport present at the last meeting of our tenure in September of 1997. We were fortunate enough to attend a symposium John helped put on in Lima and meet one of John’s three sons (he and wife Margaretha had a daughter as well) while there. We will always remember John as a smiling, positive, articulate, highly intelligent, witty, and most important of all, kind gentleman.