Remembering John Sheridan
John Sheridan was a major contributor to The Observer in recent years. John passed away in August 2018. Thank you Mr. Copic and The Observer for allowing us to remember John here.
Some of us have figures from our youth who had profound influences on us, whom we admired, loved, and in many ways wanted to emulate. One might even call them heroes.
For me, one of those heroes was John Sheridan.
John passed away in August 2018 at the age of 78. Those who knew John across our Euclid community know the magnitude of this loss.
In his later years, John was a major contributor to The Observer, submitting countless articles for this publication on a volunteer basis. John loved Euclid and the surrounding neighborhoods and his love shone through in the unique, interesting, and personal pieces that he authored.
John was born and raised in Euclid where he lived his entire life. He was my father’s dear friend since childhood.
John and my dad had the kind of lifetime friendship about which many dream. They were virtually inseparable after meeting in first grade at Holy Cross School in the 1940’s. They attended high school together at St. Joseph, where they played on the golf and wrestling teams. Later they attended college together at John Carroll. Each served as the other’s best man. John was my brother’s godfather and my Confirmation sponsor.
John’s career in journalism began when he served as the beat reporter for the Euclid News Journal in the 1960s and 1970s. In those days, this all-encompassing job meant not only finding and writing most of the articles, but editing them, laying out the newspaper, and sending it to print before each weekly deadline. Such a job fraught with endless deadlines might seem a grind, but that was not the case for John, who loved covering his community.
From there John moved on to Penton Publishing, where he eventually became an Editor at Industry Week Magazine. One of his innovative contributions to Industry Week was America’s Best Plants, an annual program he developed where manufacturers from across the country competed on key business measures to be counted among America’s best plants. This program was majorly successful for Penton and also fueled the marketing efforts of companies from around the nation. The success of this program led John to write a book about the best plants in the country.
During John’s time at Penton, he became a longtime member at the Cleveland Press Club, where he served as President, and where he is now enshrined in the Cleveland Press Club Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career in journalism, John never forgot his alma mater St. Joseph High School, to which he had a great devotion and volunteered many hours. Wherever possible, John would feature St. Joe’s in his writing. John was a key driver of the St. Joseph Hall of Fame for its distinguished alumni, of which he is a member.
On a personal level, John was like a brother to my dad. Our childhoods in the Sweet household were marked with fond memories of John and his wife of 48 years, Elaine. John and Elaine were simply a part of our family. While there are of course too many stories to share, a couple stand out to describe the kind of man John was.
One year, the kids on our street organized a backyard carnival to raise money for a local charity. We only raised $23, but John used his “pull” at the Euclid News Journal to feature us as the front page story in the paper that week. We kids of East 210 Street enjoyed our newfound “cache” and fleeting celebrity status for a few days.
John had a terrific sense of humor. We have a photo with him as my Confirmation sponsor, where he is posing as a bad influence. In the photo, we are smoking cigarettes together and he is pouring me a Manhattan, which for the record I did not drink.
On another occasion, John found my mom’s recipe book and changed her Waldorf Salad recipe to include eyes of newt, bat wings, and rat liver. He placed the recipe back in the book and waited patiently for my mom to discover these changes, many years later.
In the late 1970’s, my dad organized a Euclid Sunday Morning League softball team comprised of relatively “over the hill” Euclid friends. The team, named Open Pantry after its East 200 Street convenience store sponsor, was pretty bad (although comical) when first formed. Over the years however, the team improved and won a thrilling championship one year. John memorialized this saga in a manuscript called the Open Pantry Chronicles – later renamed The Worst Softball Team in America. He would bring it to our house for “professional editing” after chapters were completed.
Overall, John was a man who relished in the happiness and successes of others. He could look into the hearts of people and situations and bring them to life with his unique writing, because he observed and appreciated the beautiful details of life.
What might say the most about John is how you felt when speaking with him individually. The poet Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Such was the case with John. He embodied kindness, meekness, and humility and when you talked with him it was rarely about himself. He always genuinely wanted to know how you were doing.
At John’s funeral at Our Lady of the Lake Church, my dad recounted an evening when John was going through a rough spell. John stopped at our house and swore that he had picked up Jesus as a hitchhiker that evening. During his homily, Father Joe Fortuna remarked that maybe John had in fact picked up Jesus, because we are all called to treat each other as if that is the case. We can be certain that is how John had treated that gentleman on the road that night.
John Sheridan was a man who used his gifts and his lifelong profession to lift others up, to remember and support the community he loved, and to celebrate the goodness in our world.
Rest in Peace John. May I take a little of your spirit towards others and carry it on today.
Mike Sweet Euclid Resident