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About John Last Updated: Sep 8th, 2009 - 08:07:52


Tribute to a very special person: John Ohliger

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John with his cat


“The world is certainly a poorer place for losing John,” the man says to me over the phone. I hang up the phone and sit perplexed. How do you put a person’s life on a piece of paper? Newspaper articles, pictures, and personal stories surround me. They are circling me. I remember the radio tributes that aired after his passing. Adult educator, co-founder of WORT radio (89.9 FM), did this, accomplished that. I sigh. So much life he has lived in his 77 years. I decided his friends and loved ones—and in one instance John—should be the ones telling his story.

John on learning and his role as an Adult Educator:
John believed that learning is too precious to be forced. Learning must be joyous, individual, and voluntary.—Chris Wagner, married to John since 1989

John had a sense of the importance of learning for every human being and trying to maximize the opportunities for everyone, but the decision as to what a person studies should not be controlled by someone else.—Jim Mayhew, involved in the field of Adult Education

One of the things John always did for me was to ask good questions. He would ask questions that would stop me in my tracks. He had a wonderful ability to have insight. One of my interests education and social change—he influenced that a lot. He also put for me the sense of the power of radio in a new context, which later led me to doing a dissertation on a community based radio project in Columbia, South America.—Jim Mayhew

John and his life in the Bay Creek neighborhood near Monona Bay:
Just a few months ago we were able to move into a 50 year old house half a block from Monona Bay near where I lived from 1973 to the late 1980s. That felt like finally coming home. And I suddenly realized why: I was born near water (Lake Erie) and grew up near water (Detroit River). —excerpt from article written for Bay Creek Bulletin, December 2000/January 2001, by John Ohliger.

John and WORT radio, 89.9 FM, which he co-founded
John, one of the founders of the station, was dedicated to democracy, community, and inclusivity at an institution [WORT] that was dedicated to justice and peace. In the late 1980s, when he saw that this was being squandered at WORT, he went against the people who were running the station. He believed WORT had fallen off the track and was not doing what it was supposed to do—so he challenged the current powers to bring the organization to where it should be.—Esty Dinur, host of WORT radio show, Public Affair, and president of the board.

John played a very important role in 1994 during the struggle to make WORT more democratic. He brought knowledge from WORT’s past and a strong commitment to democratic processes.—Norm Stockwell, Operations Coordinator of WORT radio
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
John loved cats, had a million t-shirts, was always reading, enjoyed
film, had a wonderful sense of humor and friends everywhere, and he always had a good beer on hand for you to try.—Julie Yearling, who became friends with John through their membership with Friends of the South Madison Branch Library.

John Ohliger will be missed by many. A memorial service for him is being held on Saturday, May 8 at 2:00 p.m. at the Labor Temple, 1602 South Park Street.

Jodi Wortsman, editor

© Copyright 2004 John Ohliger.org

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Back Home Again by the Bay
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Jim Cox Report: April 2004
John Ohliger Institute for Social Inquiry
John Ohliger Obituary
John Ohliger's Resume
John Ohliger--An Extraordinary Ordinary Human Being: A Personal Meditation
Kaveny's Bookshelf
Ohliger Dies; Guided WORT
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