The death of a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has led grieving friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to flood online guest books where they are sharing warm memories of him.
John Gaylord, 50, of Chandler died Friday in Pinal County after he collided with a boat trailer being towed on state Route 79 while riding his new Harley-Davidson motorcycle to meet friends.
Those who didn’t know the judge from Arizona’s judicial system remember him from Boy Scouts, the Knights of Columbus and the U.S. Marines.
And some remember that Gaylord once tried his hand at politics. In the 1992 election for the Arizona House of Representatives, Gaylord and Republican Richard Kyle tied for the Chandler District 6 office.
Under state law, the two had to solve their draw with a game of chance. Gaylord called for a hand of five-card stud.
“Most of my friends thought I was foolish to do it that way, because they know I’m not good in poker,” Gaylord told the Tribune in 2000.
But he was charmed by the story of Show Low, where cattle ranchers in a land feud decided range rights by a low draw of the cards.
Kyle won the hand that night, though, and Gaylord found his way to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
His affinity for the West showed in his dress, too.
“He always took my teasing about his cowboy boots and jeans in stride,” Penny Willrich wrote in Gaylord’s guest book.
Joe Kanefield, a close friend of 12 years, remembered how Gaylord always drove the support van for runners in the Baker-to-Vegas 120-mile relay race. Kanefield said Gaylord would finish volunteering at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, then he’d “wake me up, mock me for complaining how tired I was and drag me to the casino where we would play craps and blackjack the rest of the night. These are some of the best memories of my life.”
Katrina Fleck, a neighbor of 16 years, pictures him sitting in their cul-de-sac alongside other neighbors listening to “The War of the Worlds” on Halloween.
The man made a difference through his work, too.
“We never got the opportunity to thank Judge Gaylord for giving our grandson a second chance while in juvenile detention. (Gaylord) was the turnaround for this young man,” wrote Mr. and Mrs. Leo Moran.
Attorneys who have appeared before him were similarly appreciative.
“One could never have too many cases assigned to his court,” wrote Brandon Cotto. “He was respected by the defense bar and the state alike.”
Most of all, notes referred to the judge’s love for his family and his country.
“John Gaylord has outstripped many of us in loving Our God, he has outstripped many of us in loving his family, and has outstripped us in loving his country,” wrote Don Craig and Heidi Hintze.
Donations may be sent to: The Judge John M. Gaylord Charitable Foundation, c/o John Sinodis 2800 N. Central Ave., Suite 1800, Phoenix, AZ 85004