This month, we also wish a happy and healthy 90th birthday to Charter Member John Marden, who early risers will know as the guy riding the recumbent bike every weekday morning at 5:30am and every weekend at 7:00am. He seldom missed a workout since our reopening in July.
While John peddles away in the cardio room, he briefs himself on the state of the Federal Reserve. He takes notes and prepares letters of his recommendations, which he polishes up and sends to legislators,
John’s path to the Beede Center began in NYC, where he was born to an American father and New Zealander mother, who died just before John’s fifth birthday.
The United States was steeped in the Depression and John’s father had four small children to care for. A son and daughter from his first marriage, the oldest being 12 and John and his toddler brother. John’s grandmother in New Zealand wrote, suggesting she care for the four children. She admitted she was broke, but did own an active 5-acre farm.
Within weeks, John, his father and siblings were chugging along for five days on a train to Los Angeles. “It stopped for six hours at the Grand Canyon so everyone could see it. I remember that,” said John.
The family boarded an ocean liner from LA that stopped in Honolulu, American Samoa and Fiji on its three-week voyage to New Zealand. John’s home for the next decade would be on this island of sweeping vistas and plush rolling hills.
John’s father returned to NYC and eventually married again. John entered boarding school in New Zealand and, just as he was learning to drive a car on the left side of the road, his new stepmother, a woman of means, insisted on “rescuing the boys from being peasants.”
“I suffered two traumas in my life,” recalled John. “One was when my mother died and the other was being pulled out of New Zealand.”
Five weeks after leaving the Land of the Long White Cloud, John enrolled at Phillips Academy Andover. While pursuing an economics degree from Harvard University, he became acquainted with Barbara, a violinist and coed seeking a degree in education. They celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.
John owned a construction and land development company that built houses in Lincoln's Todd Pond road area, and Concord’s Annursnac Hill and Monument Street as well as other estates, including one for a steel mogul in the midwest. He and Barbara have five adult children, and John has returned to New Zealand three times. He was impressed to see drones herding sheep during his and Barbara’s last visit.
This month the Marden’s five children will gather in Concord to celebrate John’s milestone birthday. Even with family coming in from Chicago, Switzerland, England, NYC and Bedford, John will keep his predawn exercise routine. “I try to take good care of myself.”