ForeverMissed
John is considered to be the "father" of cancer surveillance in North America and instrumental to establishing and advancing the principles of this field worldwide.  While serving in the Public Health Service, he was employed at the National Cancer Institute 50 years ago during the establishment of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Working with Charles Smart, William Haenzel, Sidney Cutler, and Constance Percy, among others, John defined the rules and standard operating procedures for the SEER Program, and ultimately the nation and the world. He also worked closely with Calum Muir and Max Parkin at the International Association of Cancer Registries, serving as President, as an editor of Cancer Incidence in Five Continents, and as an advisor to population based registries worldwide. Through this work, the first standardized and aggregated cancer incidence data were published on a national and international scale, leading to the foundation of descriptive cancer epidemiology and the study of regional variation in cancer incidence. He led the SEER Program until retiring from the Public Health Service in 1988 when he moved to California to lead the establishment of the Greater California Cancer Registry with others such as Don Austin and Dee West.  During his tenure in California, John played a pivotal role in the establishment of the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and served as its first President.  In the 1998 John joined the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta and served as the Director of the Atlanta SEER registry, and as an advisor to the National Program of Cancer Registries at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More important than all of these significant achievements and contributions to the science of cancer surveillance, John served as a mentor and advisor to us all. Without text books or formal training programs in cancer registration and cancer surveillance John shared his knowledge and opinions freely guiding thousands of cancer surveillance professionals both in the US and worldwide. His tag line about data quality, "Purification Through Utilization", still resonates with us today.  John was cancer surveillance's equivalent of Dr. Fauci.

Betsy Kohler
NAACCR President

Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
John will be remembered as a man with an enormous heart, generous spirit and witty sense of humor. John dearly loved his family, friends and colleagues and found many ways to enrich our lives both professionally and privately. He will be sorely missed and long remembered as friend, a mentor, and for his positive influence on us all.

Betsy Kohler of NAACCR
Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
John was my boss when I first started at the California Cancer Registry in 1995. He was such a great guy. 

From Dan Curran of C/NET
Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
He will be missed by so many of us old timers but he will go on in the work that we do and the work that those who follow us do. 

From Theresa Vallerand of Ciox

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
John will be remembered as a man with an enormous heart, generous spirit and witty sense of humor. John dearly loved his family, friends and colleagues and found many ways to enrich our lives both professionally and privately. He will be sorely missed and long remembered as friend, a mentor, and for his positive influence on us all.

Betsy Kohler of NAACCR
Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
John was my boss when I first started at the California Cancer Registry in 1995. He was such a great guy. 

From Dan Curran of C/NET
Posted by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
He will be missed by so many of us old timers but he will go on in the work that we do and the work that those who follow us do. 

From Theresa Vallerand of Ciox
Recent stories

From Colleen Sherman of New York State Cancer Registry

Shared by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
I have such good memories of sharing meals with him and our fun group during trips to Atlanta.   

From Loraine Marrett Walter

Shared by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
I knew John best when I worked for 7 years (1975-1982) as part of the SEER program in Connecticut, where we had 2 sites: the Registry itself in Hartford and a Research Unit at Yale in New Haven. I was at the latter. This job was my introduction to cancer registries, and what a wonderful way - and time - to enter that world. The SEER community was a very collegial one and I met many fine people. Of course, John and Connie were among them - giants in the cancer surveillance world, along with Calum Muir. John had a big heart and was quick to laugh, a good and committed man-with-a-vision.

From Dr. Freddie Bray of IACR

Shared by Tricia Kulmacz on April 6, 2021
I was a generation or two before, it was evident from my first weeks at my very first job (South Western Cancer Registry, Bristol) that John was key in the development of cancer registration internationally and a pioneer in the field. We will certainly ensure there is a piece on the IACR website honouring his legacy and link this to the IARC homepage.