John Appleton was born to a strong Irish Catholic family on January 5, 1951, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. As a child he spent most of his time out west and always dreamed of returning some day. He moved around quite a bit and finally ended up on the east coast. John attended the University of Texas.
John became a “2nd career” man when he felt the calling of serving Christ in the ordained ministry. He ended up at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia. John, his wife, and their five children served the Lord in Philadelphia for 25 years. On that eventful day, September 11, 2001, he decided he needed to do something to help. At that time he became involved with a group known as the Chapel of Four Chaplains. It was with this group that he made several trips to “Ground Zero,” where he met people from all over the country and was able to share the gospel and help in many ways, from serving food to sweeping floors. It was as this time John got the bug to become a firefighter; however, where he was living at the time, South Philly, there were not many opportunities to volunteer. John continued to minister in Philadelphia for five more years, when the Lord led him and his family to West Virginia.
It was this move that gave him the opportunity to fulfil that dream of becoming a firefighter. In the community of Malden, West Virginia, just outside of Charleston, John became active in the volunteer fire department. He attended fire school and took classes every chance he got.
He became active in the local community and worked very hard to “keep it local” in outreach and service. He worked to bring a farmers market to the area. This drew people from all over and was scheduled for its first opening the day he died. John had three great loves in his life—God and the church, his family, and the Malden Volunteer Fire Department. He served all three with love and enthusiasm.
John and Cathy were married 38 years and have five children and five grandchildren. John was a man of many words, but a young man in the church said it perfectly, “When you saw Preacher you heard the gospel, and he would tell you to be ready, because you never know when you will be called home.” John was ready when he was called.