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

  1. Craig Harris says:

    John- To say you were a friend would be an understatement. You were a kind, thoughtful and caring person to everyone you met. I will always cherish the time we spent together, whether it was debating where to go to lunch (Yes, we know it has to serve either Chicken, Hot French Fries or Hot Dogs) or does everyone want a Frosty from Wendy’s. You did love those Frosty’s even when spilling in the car. I looked forward to you standing in my doorway making small talk and then popping the question oh so nonchalantly “So when should the next game be”? I think I got more enjoyment “forgetting” to send something out than the torture of deciding when the next game should be. Your love of life was a joy to everyone you came in touch with and I will miss you terribly my friend. Playing cards will never be the same and I hope you get a winning hand for all eternity. Words can’t express the sadness I have for you Lisa as I know how much you meant to John. When you two got together he became complete and that was a great thing to behold. I can only say I thank-you from the bottom of my heart for letting us in your life. Patricia and I will always look fondly on those evenings we spent in the backyard laughing and solving the world’s problems. There are to many memories of John to share here, but there is one that that I will remember forever. By now everyone knows John loved playing cards and being analytical and “by the book” was his style. Unfortunately for him he was playing with characters out of a bad Hallmark movie. During one Tournament John had the best hand going in to the last two cards being dealt, in fact there really was no logical way any body should be playing, everyone that is except Marty. See, Marty played everything, in most cases it was just to see John’s reaction. However, in typical Marty fashion he got the only two cards that could beat John and well, John lost it as only John could. Cards were “gently” tossed and chips went scattering, John looked at Marty and I quote “Who plays that hand only a … would”. To find out what John said ask one of the USOP group at the Memorial but forever in Pokelore he created a new term for all of us. John, I will end this by saying I am a better person for having you in my life and seeing you when I was going through my issues brightened up my day in ways you will never know. You will be missed by so many people and save a chair for me and we will get a game together when I see you again.

    Love Craig

  2. Karen Samuel says:

    John made every day in the Livermore office better when he was here. I miss him poking his head over my cube to say hello and chat. Loved all the yummy treats he would bring in for us. Personal favorites were the awesome omelets he and Bob Garibaldi made to order and can’t forget the famous peanut butter cookies!

    He was a wonderful person in many ways. It is unbelievably sad that he is gone too soon. Deepest sympathy to his family.

    Rest in peace my friend.

    Karen Samuel

  3. Mike Parson says:

    Lisa, While we never met, I had the pleasure of working with John for somewhere near 15 years. In all those years, with all the problems my department gave him, he was a class person. Never jumped to conclusions, always wanted to work on a fix to the problem, never trying to fix a blame. Even after being retired for over 4 years now, John will always stand out as someone I could count on and go to. He helped resolve problems, foster new ideas, and was someone I could call a friend. Hopefully there is comfort in knowing John touched many of us and always in a positive way. My wife and I hope these tough days will be a bit easier knowing we all thought the world of John.

    Mike Parson

  4. I am Sue Poppers sister Nancy. I am so saddened to hear this news. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Cancer has been a tough foe for us all. I am comforted to know that John had a companion at his side through this…My heart goes out to you Lisa.

  5. I am so sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was really a great guy–funny and smart and caring. I am at a loss for words…Lisa, you have my deepest, sincerest sympathy.

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