John was born in Philadelphia‚ Pennsylvania‚ the loving son of John (Jack) Echternach Sr. and Jeanne Troy Echternach‚ and beloved big brother to his sister‚ Cathy. He spent his early years in Maryland and New York before moving to Norfolk‚ Virginia. He graduated with honors from Maury High School in Norfolk and attended Virginia Wesleyan College‚ where he ran on the cross country team. He earned a master’s degree in biology and a degree in physical therapy from Old Dominion University. He later completed a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.
While preparing for PT school‚ he fell in love with Debbie King‚ a PT working at Montgomery Hospital in Blacksburg‚ Virginia. They were married and moved to Boones Mill‚ Virginia‚ where they built their log cabin home and raised two great kids‚ Jeff and Jaimie‚ who were their pride and joy.
John worked as an orthopedic physical therapist at Professional Therapies for 20 years before he became an assistant professor for the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. John loved working with his patients and being a part of their rehabilitation as much as he loved teaching his PTA students about a career in physical therapy.
He began volunteering as a firefighter with Clearbrook Company 7 in 1993‚ then transferred to Boones Mill Company 7‚ where he attained the rank of lieutenant. John immediately began his EMT training and ran many medical and fire calls over the years. He always answered the call. He completed firefighter instructor training and enjoyed coordinating continuing education for the volunteer firefighters and EMTs.
John was an avid outdoorsman‚ an Eagle Scout‚ and a member of the Order of the Arrow. He enjoyed hiking‚ nature photography‚ and gardening. He enjoyed woodworking‚ using wood he had cut at his sawmill to make furniture and to build his parents’ home. John was a member of Boones Mill Christian Church‚ where he taught Sunday school. We mourn our loss‚ but also celebrate his life and his moral character.
John died as he lived‚ serving others. On June 29‚ while trying to help a motorist who was trapped in her vehicle during the Derecho windstorm‚ he was struck by a tree and suffered a head injury. The firefighters‚ EMTs‚ and paramedics from his station responded quickly. Their supportive care‚ coupled by John’s excellent health‚ made him the perfect organ donor. John passed away three days after the accident and was able to donate several of his organs and tissues. John’s legacy lives on in the lives of these recipients‚ and others whose lives he touched through his endless devotion to service. His life on earth was short but full‚ and we will rejoice when we are reunited with him in God’s heavenly kingdom!