October 7, 1999
I am sorry to announce that John Trechak died Sept. 2 from a massive heart attack. John had suffered from many health problems this year and was, in fact, in the hospital at the time of his death.
I know that John would have liked to thank his long time Ambassador Report subscribers for their support and his friends for their friendship over the years.
John devoted 24 years of his life to exposing the Worldwide Church of God's hypocrisy, misuse of funds, and intimidation techniques. An Oct. 26, 1977 article in the Los Angeles Times called the Ambassador Report "the first concerted attempt to document many of the accusations of a playboy-style living by the Armstrongs," the mishandling of tithes, and the sexual misconduct of Garner Ted Armstrong.
Over the years, John's writing and efforts to expose the cult of Armstrongism helped many people to leave the WCG, and certainly saved thousands of people millions of dollars in tithe money. While the WCG worked to split up families, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in tithe money, and literally destroyed many people's lives, John worked to help people rebuild their lives and their families, and saved many people the heartbreak of ever joining the WCG.
Although the WCG occupied many hours of John's life, his friends remember him as a fine musician. Even at the age of four he was playing the accordion and entering national contests. At the ripe old age of eight, John switched to the piano which he played until his death. Before being diverted at 18 into the WCG and going to Ambassador College, John took several classes at Juillard and was interested in conducting and composing music. Music was an important part of John's entire life.
One of John's proudest accomplishments was obtaining his J.D. in Law at Loyola Law School. While he never practiced law, his degree enriched his writing and his life.
In addition to being a fine musician and writer, John was active in the Green Party, supported the Sierra Club, and Amnesty International. He belonged to the Jack London Society and participated in their bi-yearly conferences and their e-mail discussion group. John was also an avid weight lifter since high school and broke several records during his years as a student at Ambassador College.
John will be missed by many people, but most of all by his mother Helen Trechak, his brother Andrew Trechak Jr., and his nephews and niece Julie, Gregory and David. John was born in New Jersey and his mother still resides in that state. If any of you would like to send his family a card or perhaps a remembrance of how John touched your life, please send it to: Helen Trechak, c/o Mary E. Jones, P.O. Box 60452, Pasadena, CA 91116.
The former publishers of Ambassador Report feel that our lives have been enriched by our friendship with John. And his death has greatly affected all of us. We will never forget him and our hope is that John's early death will teach us to live life more fully with the understanding that our moments on earth are very short and very precious.
Since John's subscribers, friends, and relatives are scattered around the world, we would like to ask that everyone take some time on Nov. 6, 1999 to go outside, watch the sunset, and remember how John touched your life and appreciate the man that he was. In this small token of friendship and love of John we can all share his memory together.
Mary E. Jones with the former Publishers and staff of Ambassador Report
The following letters are from two former Publishers of AR:
I've just finished moving the last of John's AR office and personal possessions out of his home and into storage. The organizing and packing of all AR-related research, reference materials, notes, and library took several weeks. Going through this difficult process brought back a flood of memories of my long friendship with John going back 27 years. Naturally, some of the most poignant occurred during the early years of our waging up-close and personal war against the Armstrongs, Rader, et al. And the war was very hot indeed.
From the early 1980s, though, the AR was John Trechak. This tireless sacrifice manifested itself not solely on the pages of 72 issues. Much of his labor was quiet, behind-the-scenes counseling provided individually to hundreds of WCG members on their way out. John was very instrumental in my own awakening to the doctrinal and secular corruption rife in the Armstrong cult. This 25 year effort at great personal cost is John's greatest gift to all of us. My life is far richer for having known him.
This chapter is now complete. John's research, publications, and personal library will be utilized in a future book dealing with alternate religions and the role of apostates in changing them. Back issues of all ARs will be available in the near future.
John and I often philosophized about death being "the next great adventure." So many unanswerable questions in this life will hopefully be resolved in the next. Or maybe not. Hence the adventure.
I think John's wish for all in the AR family would be to constantly question, challenge, and grow. Make your own life an adventure. He certainly did.
John Trechak - Publisher, Writer, Musician, Friend
John's death brought Connie and me much sorrow and a deep sense of loss. But at the same time we are so happy that he was a part of our life for so long. Connie and I met John more than 30 years ago when we transferred to the Bricket Wood, England, campus of Ambassador College. Music was one of the passions in his life, and we were lucky to have had him play the piano at our wedding in 1972. John met his longtime companion and the love of his life, Mary Jones, at our home in January, 1976 - and they went on to share life for the next 23 years.
John and Mary not only babysat our two sons, Ted and Fred, from time to time, but our boys cannot remember a time without John as a close family friend. Not only did he keep them challenged with stimulating literature, both fiction and nonfiction (they were always eager to tear into his Christmas gifts), but he and Mary attended their Eagle Scout ceremonies, school plays, high school graduations, and even made it up to Berkeley for Fred's college graduation. And perhaps most important, more than once John served as a non-parental sounding board for our boys as they grew and matured through their school years.
I consider myself fortunate indeed to have had the privilege of being one of those in a supporting role to John as he created and shaped Ambassador Report in its early years. As he and Mary "went it alone" with the AR, he perfected his investigative reporting techniques while regularly delivering an interesting, fastmoving, hard-hitting newsletter. The handwritten thank you's of ex-Worldwiders whose minds and lives were freed numbered in the multiple thousands during the nearly two and a half decades that he spearheaded this crusade.
On September 2, 1999, the AR died with John, and that is as it should be... but its legacy lives on. It was his life's work, and it showcased his talent, tenacity, and dedication. He was no stranger to controversy, and in fact felt quite at home in its presence. He was as uncompromising in his pursuit of truth as he was unapologetic about revealing the secrets which the pursuit of truth often uncovered. A man of conviction, he was fearless and relentless - against all odds, confronting the powerful and well-funded Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of God, he never blinked, and he never quit.
Why did the AR succeed and why did it succeed for so long? I think John's professionalism and commitment to detail were the foundation of his editorial success, but his writing style, his zeal for the written word, made each issue eagerly anticipated by his readers and exciting to read.
A "social" evening with John was seldom "laid back," he was always intense, thoughtful and thought provoking; he challenged and stimulated our minds as much in person as in writing. We (Mary, Len, Marg, Bill, Connie, myself) worked on the AR with John, partied with him, argued politics, philosophized, and pondered the meaning of life with John, and all for nearly a quarter of a century... and we really miss him.
The lives of Connie, my sons, and I were enriched for having known John. I am proud of the positive and lasting impact he had on so many lives, and I am honored to have been one of his Ambassador Report co-publishers. Rest in peace, my friend - you earned it.
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