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John Francis Bardi


John Francis Bardi (May 24, 1947 – September 24, 2020)

This obituary was originally published on mykeeper.com and you may leave a tribute for John here.

John Francis Bardi died on September 24, 2020 at his home in Ventura, California. He is survived by his wife, Amy, and his four children, Ty, Jason, Andy, and Ariel.  

John’s lifelong passions were music and teaching. John picked up his first guitar as a teenager. By the time he’d graduated high school, he and his brother, Julian, had released several singles as the “Dagenites” (named after their mother’s hometown of Dagenham, London). John would spend the next six decades playing music, both in bands and as a solo artist, and was well known in his communities as a brilliant guitarist.

The first member of his family to graduate from college, John earned a bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State University, a master’s degree from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Missouri. John would go on to work for the University of Maryland’s overseas program in Japan and the UK, where he taught philosophy to off-duty US service members, as well as Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He spent the final twenty-five years of his teaching career at Penn State’s Mont Alto campus, where his colleagues voted him teacher of the year multiple times before his retirement in 2017. John loved being a teacher, and took immense pride in the number of former students who contacted him over the years to thank him for being such a profound inspiration. 

In the late 1990s, John decided to start a cable access TV show on the ACTV public channel in Gettysburg, Pennslyvania. The “John Show,” which ran for over a decade and became a community staple, was an irreverent sci-fi-themed mashup of political commentary, philosophy, and rock guitar. In 2018 he published a novel, “Conversations with a Philosopher from Another Planet,” which he based on the key themes and concepts from the John Show. Prior to his death, John had been brainstorming how to bring the show back on YouTube. 

For those of us who knew him, it’s impossible to capture what he was about in a few paragraphs. But we’re hoping this site will allow us to collect everyone’s memories in one place so that we can, collectively, begin to tell the story of the legendary John Bardi.

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  • It’s a great loss. Even if you didn’t know John well you might have felt like you did, because he made you feel that way. Running into him on the corner was always an experience because you never knew what the conversation would be but you knew it would be eclectic and interesting. I often thought about my conversations with John for days. Reading his writings was also a trip because it is way out there — from another planet perhaps. I wish I had been a student in one of his classes, but I feel like I was a student of John somehow. RIP dude. We miss you.

  • OMG! I am so grateful to have known John these past 35 years or so…he was a kindred soul, full of fun & Zen Lunacy (we discussed THAT Early-on!) He was always willing and able to play his music for art receptions, never taking compensation (He knew we couldn’t afford much anyway) AND he had that wonderful, positive INTELLIGENT vibe – always recognized my car with myriad bumper stickers as he rode through town on his bicycle, sharing smiles and philosophy. His spirit has merely beamed back to the Universe, a shooting star!

  • John was a great guy and positive force in my musical life.

    One of my fondest memories of John was when we would get together to play jazz standards and how it would all eventually morph into some philosophical digression about Bergson’s “duration” or some other “system”.

    I always thought we would see each other again. Time is a bitch! John will be missed.

  • It’s so hard to write “John was…” I can’t imagine that he’s gone, but I know that he’s found his way out into the universe and is meeting some cool aliens who are raising a glass to toast his inimitable life and finally having that face to face conversation.
    I have so many wonderful memories of open mics with his great music, great conversations, and watching him talk to all the young musicians and giving them encouragement and lots of good advice. His smile was constant. He listened as though what you were saying to him was the most important thing he had ever heard.
    Rock on, John.

  • John was in part such a great teacher–and friend–because you could say the most off-the-wall thing to him, and he would–genuinely–acknowledge value in your comment before responding with whatever it was he wanted to say. He made you feel like he truly valued your opinion and that you were engaged in meaningful conversation. He was like no other.

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