John Alkema, 75
John Kenneth Alkema, of San Clemente, California, died peacefully at his home on March 29, 2020 after a two‐year fight against pancreatic cancer. John was born in Glendale, California on April 20, 1944 to Richard and Janet Alkema, the middle of three sons. He spent his early life in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles prior to moving to Monterey Park in the early 1950s. He attended Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra and graduated in 1961. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served his country in the Vietnam War. Afterward, he served in the U.S. Army Reserves and received an honorable discharge in 1969.
In 1967, John began his firefighting career with the Covina Fire Department. In 1969, he transitioned to the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a firefighter at Station 3 in East Los Angeles. John worked at stations all across the county, most notably Station 16 in Watts, Station 8 in West Hollywood, and Station 30 in Cerritos. He rose through the ranks over his 37‐year career. His final position was Assistant Fire Chief for Division 1, serving the communities of Carson, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Lomita, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates and Catalina Island.
A second career as a paralegal began immediately following his retirement from the fire department. For eleven years John was a part time member of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County team providing free legal services to the community.
John’s sense of adventure was not limited to his work life. In his early years, he was captivated by surfing and moved to San Clemente in 1971 to be closer to T‐Street and San Onofre. He traveled extensively through the four major continents by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and car. His most notable adventures include the Royal Road in Brazil, the ALCAN 5000, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.
Habitat for Humanity was a perfect blend of service and adventure for John. In his post retirement years he participated in HFH projects locally, nationally, and internationally. Within the organization he served as a group leader in the Global Village Program having either participated in or lead groups in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Boliva, Costa Rica, and most notably the Jimmy Carter build in Vietnam.
John loved to play soccer and was part of a men’s pick up league (FOBD) in Laguna Beach for decades. For 40 years he could be found many a Saturday morning on the San Clemente soccer fields as an AYSO volunteer referee. He was also a dedicated fan of Team USA during the Men’s and Women’s World Cup events.
John is survived by the following: his wife, Linda Verraster and daughter, Gina; his former wife, Cody Chaplin, son, Paul, and daughter, Gretchen; and his younger brother, David, sister‐in‐law Patty, and their daughters, Corinne and Nikki‐Rae. His parents and older brother, Richard, predeceased him.
A memorial gathering will be scheduled later in the year. Donations may be made in his honor to the American Cancer Society.