John was tall, lanky and always dressed in baggy shorts with a t-shirt, often one he designed. Funny, biting wit, all delivered by a crisp South African cadence. He was an artist, a designer, a friend- and host to many people through out the world. He passed on early this month surrounded by a small circle of closest friends, succumbing to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

John Bain with throwing the ball with Kiwi at Waimea Point house

John Bain with throwing the ball with Kiwi at Waimea Point house

He would have hated any saccharine sentimentality and would not want anyone to dwell on that, so here I am, an ocean and continent away, celebrating the colorful character I remember fondly.

John Bain was one of the first people I met during my initial adventure to Hawaii in the early 80’s. He had what seemed like the best “gig”  I could imagine. John was caretaker of A.L. Kilgo‘s country home at beautiful Waimea Point, overlooking the bay on the North Shore of Oahu. He lived on the first of the three houses on the property and over saw the rental of the other two homes leading out to the point.

Surfing Waimea

Best seat in the house when Waimea Bay was BIG & breaking

There was always a cute surfer or two or three, or more, staying at John’s during the fall and winter surf season and John painted many of them. Here is John’s “private gallery” at the point house and through the doorway on the left you can see small framed photos from Kilgo’s party days out at the house.

Portraits by John Bain, Waimea, HI

Surfer Portrait Wall by John Bain.

An old photo of Mr. Kilgo that hangs on the wall of his country house, Waimea Bay

An old photo of Mr. Kilgo that hangs on the wall of his country house, Waimea Bay

After I moved to the mainland and started our family with Scott, we had the opportunity to stay at the coveted house on Waimea Point more than once.

A sunset dinner at Waimea

A sunset dinner at Waimea

John was always painting, working or designing something, and his house was filled with his work and collections. During one of our visits staying at Waimea, we commissioned John to do a small portrait of each of our boys.

Portrait sitting with John Bain

Griffin sitting for John, 2005

In my last email to John when I first learned about his illness I had Nate and Griffin pose with their portraits.

portrait now and then of Nate Dight by John Bain

Nate with his portrait by John Bain. John called Nate “a Young Brad Pitt!”

Griffin with his John Bain original

Griffin with his John Bain original

Last week, our dear mutual friend Faith Milnes, filled me in about John’s final days. I am truly sorry that he is gone, so many people loved him, myself among them. I know he leaves behind so much of himself in his friends and art, and to that I say-

To John- with love and much aloha. and Cheers!


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