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. Wayne Wright says:

    John was the most generous person I have ever known. He truly brightened everyone’s day when he came into the Livermore office. I could always hear his rolling breifcase and a smile came to me knowing John was in Livermore that day.
    I will always cheish our lunches together – from the “Pudding girl” at Sweet Tomatoes andthe waitresses at Teriyaki 84 greeting us with a Hi JohnWayne and serving us the “big red cups” when we went there.

    Everyone loved John’s peanut butter cookies- he always came by and gave me one to bring home to my wife- that’s just how John was – so thoughful and kind.

    John will truly be missed – he was a great friend. Hope to meet up with you in Heaven buddy

    love, wayne

  2. To hear of John’s passing is such a shock. He was always in such good health. My deepest and most sincere sympathy goes out to the entire Popper family. I have known John for many many years. I am Peggy’s friend so I looked up to John as a big brother. He was a really good role model. He was kind and soft spoken. A true gentleman. You are truly missed.
    Rest in Peace

  3. Mike Smith says:

    I am still shocked and heartbroken about John’s passing. It was so sudden and completely unexpected. Many people have said to me over the past two weeks that John was such a great guy, such a nice guy or such a generous guy. All three are true. John always shared his good fortunes with everyone. Tips were alway generous to the restaurant staff, including fast food places. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas John would always throw in a extra special “Christmas Tip” as he called it. I don’t think I have had a closer friend over the past twenty years. This is because with John you could talk about sports, weather, politics, weekend activies, TV shows, movies, vacation trips, family, children, grandchildren, or any other topic that was either silly or serious. John sincerely cared about you and your life. John would listen just as much as he talked. We both shared moments that only close friends would share.
    Of course there was always the lighter side of John. John liked to take a situation and apply it to a TV show or movie he recalled. His triva knowledge and recall was exceptional. He would quote Star Tek, F Troop or Get Smart shows in a way that almost questioned why everyone didn’t watch those silly sitcoms from 40 years ago (except Star Trek of course). I of course would remind him of how dumb those shows were and even seem worse today, but he looked at those shows as better times for easy entertainment.
    I am so glad that John got to enjoy his two most recent vacations to Alaska and Custer’s Battlefield in Montana. He talked about going to Custer’s Battlefield for years and years. And I am sure Lisa heard all about it before, during and after the trip.
    I could go on and on about the many things we talked about and theorized on, but I won’t. Instead I would like Lisa to know that John loved the time you both had together. He talked all the time about the family. He cared deeply for Laura, Kris, Kevin and Bryce. And of course only Lisa could make John’s time in Southern California worthwhile. We all know he was not a So Cal fan, but since that was Lisa’s home, he transitioned down here for her. I hope Lisa that you can keep the fun times and happy thoughts in your mind as you go through the difficult times ahead.
    John – I hope you hear me at those times when I see a black Volt in the carpool lane and say “There you go John”. I hope the road you are now on is peaceful. We are all thinking of you buddy!

    All my best and a lot of love too,

  4. pete says:

    I first met John on our bicycles riding to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. You know how you meet someone, and the conversation is easy and insightful and pleasant and you feel as though you have known that person for many years, that was my encounter with John. His kindness and warmth were instantly present. His gentle ways revealed his big heart and he just made the day feel better.

    He was always supportive at work and patient with me as I asked him question after question about Excel issues. He was genuine in his interactions and would want to do anything he could to help. He was real.

    I will miss John and his big Ol’ smile.

  5. Susan says:

    John’s dry wit was the first thing I noticed. His kindness was the second. My first memories of John were working on projects together. He made them fun, and they always had a John-inspired soundtrack. His prodigious knowledge of music and movies kept us all scrambling to remember a quote or lyric or character. I loved our conversations – even when serious – because inevitably John would find the humor. When I got to know Lisa, and the two were dating others, it occurred to me that being with them felt very similar to me, and I decided they would be a good match. I wasn’t sure that they’d agree with me and I’m so glad they did. I’m so glad they were together, that Lisa kept John in Southern California more. I’d give anything to have him here today, for the family and friends who are so bereft.

    I’m reminded of a song lyric now when thinking about him, for his love of nature, of music, and because I’m so devastated that he is gone – “One blue sky above us, one ocean lapping at our shore, one earth so green and round, who could ask for more? And because I love you, I’ll give it one more try, to tell my rainbow race, it’s too soon to die.” It’s too soon for us to lose this dear man, this generous, kind, funny, good and decent man.

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