John Popper

John Popper

June 30, 1953 - January 31, 2017

John Popper

June 30, 1953 - January 31, 2017


John David Popper, 63, passed away suddenly from Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma on January 31, 2017 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA. He was born in Oakland, CA on June 30, 1953; the middle child to John and Beverly Popper.

John grew up in Endicott, NY between the ages of 4 and 12 until the family returned to San Jose, CA. He attended Oak Grove High School in San Jose graduating in 1971. During high school, John played football, basketball, track and cross country. He proudly won the Senior Scholar Athlete Award. John earned a BS in Biology and Marketing as well as an MBA from San Jose State University. He worked 28 years for Unified Grocers most recently as Director, Sales Performance & Analysis splitting his time between the Livermore office and the City of Commerce office. He loved his job but especially the people for whom he worked and worked with. You made a major difference in his life!

John married Lisa January 5, 2013 in Laguna Beach, CA after a three-year courtship. They enjoyed socializing with friends and family, playing scrabble, cribbage, Boggle, Rummikub, pinochle, wine tasting and collecting, traveling to Vancouver, BC, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Europe, Alaska, and his highlight, Custer’s Last Stand. John was an avid road bike rider and participated in many races for worthy causes. If he didn’t get in two rides on the weekend, he was a grumpy husband! He loved playing poker with the “USOP boys” complaining about Craig’s good luck and late email notices, but looking forward to these Friday nights so much that he refused to move down south full-time just so he could participate. John loved baking his family’s traditional cinnamon rolls at Christmas always layering pounds of extra brown sugar and cinnamon and rolling them thin. If he was in the Livermore office, he often baked cupcakes with homemade frosting, and his famous peanut butter cookies. He enjoyed playing golf with Jim and Ted annually and actually won the last round, watching old black and white movies and TV shows such as Gilligan’s Island, The Monkeys, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Get Smart, and the Brady Bunch. He was definitely born in the wrong era! We watched Hallmark Christmas movies in June, and, of course, the Bachelor. John had a collection of over 20,000 songs on his IPod ranging from “semi”-popular tunes to 60s folk to country.

John is survived by his wife, Lisa, of Huntington Beach, CA; three stepchildren, Laura Kirchner of Los Angeles, Krist Biakanja IV of Seattle, WA, and Kevin Biakanja of Huntington Beach; two children by choice Brandon Nord of Aliso Viejo and Noelle Dunn of Sacramento; sister, Peggy (Ray) Tomasso of San Jose, and brother, Stephen (Cheryl) Popper of Thurman, Ohio as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased in death by his parents, John and Beverly Popper; wife, Sue Popper; and stepson, Bryce Sanchez.

If you were fortunate enough to know John, you knew you had a friend for life. In fact, he boasted that he met his two best friends in middle school. John had a quick wit, was lightening-fast at mental mathematics, loved analytical detail – tracking his bike miles, The Bachelor statistics, budgets, retirement fund, as well as his (and Lisa’s) automobile mpg. He deeply cared about the people in his life. If you needed his help, he never wavered to assist in any way he could. John loved driving his Mercedes with the top down, an old song on the radio, and headed towards Lake Tahoe for a gambling trip. That was his idea of heaven! His fun-loving personality, quirky sense of humor, and overall presence will be sorely missed.

Services will be held on Saturday, February 18, at 11 am at Sea Cliff Country Club, 6501 Palm Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92648. Lunch will follow the memorial program. John requested attendees at the service wear bright-colored clothing.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to be made to the following organizations that John supported:

AIDS/LifeCycle 2017: Mr. Tom D. Frady – AIDS/LifeCycle
(please note in the comments section that you are donating in memory of John Popper)

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Condolences and stories may be left on John Popper’s online guest book at

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20 responses to John Popper

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  1. Mary Hassett says:

    John was a special man in so many ways; smart but humble, accomplished yet modest, tender hearted but nobody’s fool. Family and friends will miss him in a thousand ways, for all our days.
    My heart breaks for Lisa and the family as they face the loss of this kind and gentle man. Please know we share your grief and will be there for you in the difficult days ahead,
    Rest In Peace John, and know we will hold you in our hearts forever.

  2. Mike Porras says:


    Little do you know how you touched the lives of so many of your Unified Family members….We all looked forward to hearing your many stories, anticipated the Monday’s after Poker when we heard all of the different stories of who won and why….trying to decide where to go for lunch, the trips to Sweet Tomatoes and finishing off lunch with the “mini” ice cream cones…., saying hello as you did you routine walks around the office….your stopping in to just talk and see how things were going, comparing commute stories…watching you pass me on the freeway in your Mercedes with top down, hat on, during the commute home… You were always willing to help any of us with what ever you could, whenever you could….you my friend are a great man who will be missed by all…. I am grateful I was able to know you and have your friendship for so many years….

    Rest in peace John Popper….


  3. Lit a candle in memory of John Popper

  4. Abby Fox says:

    John..the look of horror will always be embedded in my memory for every time you walked in my office in the morning and caught me drinking my green smoothie. You were truly disgusted and I felt it as I continued to drink my smoothie in your presence. I would not let you shame me into putting it aside. With that said, I will miss our talks. As much as you made me laugh with your quirkiness, I always appreciated your serious side too where we pondered many of life’s mysteries. Through those talks, I learned so much about your love for Lisa and your family and all the things that were important to you (even the car). If ever I needed a donation for one of my various causes, you never hesitated to go above and beyond with a generous donation…even with all of your own philanthropic events. I truly enjoyed our friendship. I already miss you my friend. Rest peacefully.

    Lisa….I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

  5. Beth Smith says:

    Hello Lisa, and by long distance, John,
    I cannot think of a more incredible human being than John. He wasn’t just the description of a good person, he was a living, breathing, really amazing person. Warm, honest, sincere. As Mark Twain said, “You may be the only Bible someone reads today.” That was John.
    I heard about John for a few years from my husband, Mike. I had an image in my mind of what he would be like. I remember the night that I met him, at a BJ’s Pizza. He was everything I had imagined and more. He was authentic.
    I often would make comments to Mike about John’s love of cycling. I’m sorry, the stereo typical bicyclist who can be found on PCH is not a warm and fuzzy thought for me. Often, they are egotistical and defiant–as if I have no right to be behind the wheel of a car on “their” road. This was not John. He actually soften my heart toward those guys in their tight little outfits and unifying colors. John wasn’t like that–he could be a part of a larger entity and remain himself. That’s inspiring, to say the least.
    My daughter has been battling cancer for the last five months. When I walked into John’s hospital room, the first–and last thing he said, was, “How’s your daughter?” I will never ever, ever, ever, forget those words coming from a man facing eminent death.
    John, today, this very day, my daughter has been declared cancer free. Deep in my heart, I wish that could have been the outcome for you, too. I love you, I miss you, and you have left this world a richer place because now we have Lisa.
    Beth Smith

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