John L. Luzadder

John L. Luzadder, 63, died Feb. 9, 2014, with his wife Suzi at his side at their home in Homer. 

“He left this earth for more far reaching endeavors, and new stages, new gigs,” his wife said.

A celebration of life and memorial service was held  Feb. 23, 2014, at the Homer Elks Lodge.

John Lee Luzadder was born Aug. 14, 1950, in Fairmont, W.V., to Mary Martha Luzadder and Raymond Leo Luzadder.

The family moved to Southern California where he graduated from Westminster High School in 1968 before attending Orange Coast College, in Costa Mesa, and Golden West College, in Huntington Beach, majoring in music and playing in the marching bands.

Music was in his veins. John purchased his first guitar with money earned distributing newspapers on the streets of Huntington Beach, Calif. He wanted to be a rock ’n’ roll star and started playing in clubs when he was 16. In the 70s, he performed with The Clique, The Raque, Rainbow, Homegrown and Fifty Fingers. John’s best friend growing up in Southern California was Larry Hanson, later lead guitarist for Alabama.

“We learned to play guitar together,” John said. In 1970, they recorded the album “The Human Zoo,” which now is considered a collector’s item and unopened copies sell for as much as $1,000 each in Europe. 

John also had the honor of playing and recording with Don Ellis in the early 1970s and performing at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he played guitar with 1950s artists like Chubby Checker, The Coasters, The Drifters, Jesse “Oo Poo Pa Do” Hill and others.

In 1976, John was enticed to Cordova to play music for two weeks and never left. Here in Alaska, he performed with Arcane, Aftershock, Kachemak All Stars, Looney Tunes, Just Friends, Rockweiler, Monk’s Hood, The Rock Doctors, Igloo Brothers and, most recently, with Elders on Fire.

In 1982 he met his wife, lifelong Homerite, Suzi Nielsen, daughter of Karl and Mabel Nielsen. Always willing to tempt fate, they married in May on Friday the 13th, 1983. 

John wrote ad jingles for a living to stay in Homer close to Suzi’s widowed mother. One ad for a chain of photo processing labs was the genesis of the idea of owning a photo store himself. John and Suzi opened Eagle Eye One Hour Photo in 1984. The business expanded to include a digital portrait studio, color and black and white photocopying, a large inventory of frames and merchandise, and graphic design by John.

Any endeavor he pursued, he did with a fervor and perseverance that led to success. With all the different machines Eagle Eye owned, John had to be his own self-taught technician, because, more often than not, technical assistance was many miles and many days away in the lower 48. He would just dig in and learn the machine or system. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he made Eagle Eye work for 28 years.

John’s latest graphic works included menus, flyers and website designs for various local restaurants. He was most proud of Wasabi’s web site. His latest musical enjoyment was recording in his home studio and playing with the dance band Elders on Fire. He played bass, stand up bass and sang, especially enjoying the camaraderie and enthusiastic dance fans. As one person said, “John always looked out into the audience to see that they were having a good time also.”

He loved his pets, Cassie, Corky, Tyler, Cupcake, Guinness and especially his dog Dusty. He knew that animals could not speak for themselves. So, he chose to show his appreciation of their love by using his graphic design ability to make posters for an online group, Animal Parents Against Pet Treats and Food Made in China. He joined their efforts after he lost his own dog, Dusty, to tainted chicken jerky treats made in China by American companies such as Nestle Purina and Del Monte Corp.

Some of his favorite things were watching Star Trek, baby elephants frolic, birds feeding on sunflower seeds, and driving around Alaska in his motorhome. The serene beauty at a pinnacle on the Old Denali Highway soothed him. He called it the “top of the world” and would stay there for days just soaking it in. He appreciated the harmonies of The Beach Boys and the music of Dan Fogelberg. Often asked for technical help because of his computer expertise, he enjoyed the challenges.

John and Suzi enjoyed 31 years of unparalleled love, devotion and commitment. John was especially known for his quirky sense of humor, kindness, punctuality, carrying out a commitment, generous spirit and easy-going manner. He is best defined by his love for Suzi and his passion for playing music, and his infectious smile.

John is survived by Suzi, his wife of 31 years; his brother, Bill Luzadder; sister, Mary Moore; nieces, Jill Thigpen and Laura McCamy; nephews, Mike Luzadder and Nathan Kaylor and their family members. Most of them reside in North Carolina. He was preceded in death by both his parents.

In honor of John, consider donations to Homer Animal Friends.