Former Atherton finance director John Johns has died at 58


Former town of Atherton finance director John Paul Johns died on June 2 at the age of 58.

Johns worked as Atherton's finance director from 2001 to 2007. In 2006 he was tasked by the City Council to perform an audit of the building department.

The results led to political turmoil in the town, an outside investigation of the building department, and the abrupt retirement of the top building official.

Johns was suspended in August 2007 after hostile workplace complaints were made against him by the police chief, and he was fired in October following an outside investigation.

But in 2010, the town settled a $500,000 wrongful termination lawsuit in which Johns claimed his firing was the result of his work auditing the town's finances and blowing the whistle on fiscal improprieties. He was paid $225,000, rehired as the finance director and given a letter of commendation.

Johns agreed to resign the same day he was reinstated, and to give up the right to sue the town, council members, current and former employees, and contractors -- but not the right to comment on the matter.

Neither party admitted to liability in the settlement.

Johns died at his home in Davis, California. He would have been 59 on July 21.

He was born in Redwood City to David Melville Johns and Helen Josephine Johns. He served in the Marines from 1978 to 1982 on the USS Thomaston, and was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for his role in the rescue of 77 Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea in April 1981.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, received a master of business administration degree from the University of Santa Clara, and was a certified public accountant.

He is survived by his wife, Sally Ann; son Stephen and daughter CeCe; sister Cyndi Crechriou; and brothers Joseph, Richard, T. Christopher, and James. He was preceded in death by his mother and father; brothers D. Michael, Terrance, and Ronald; and a sister, Mary Jo Johns.

Services were held on Saturday, June 16, in Menlo Park. A memorial Mass was held at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, with internment at Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park.


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Barbara Wood


1 person likes this
Posted by Sad Nes
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2018 at 6:11 am

Very sorry to hear this. John was a complex and honorable man.

3 people like this
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 16, 2018 at 7:28 pm

I was saddened and moved to attend John's service today. John left us much too early and leaves behind a family who clearly deeply values and loves him.

I did not know John had a twin brother who is a minister. He co-officiated the service.

I did not know about the heroism John showed in the Marines (as detailed in this article), but it is very consistent with the courage John showed in, according to the words of his brother, "speaking truth to power" when he perceived injustices in his financial audit role.

In addition to the various honors the article described, former Mayor Kathy McKeithen from Atherton attended the service which was a sign of additional respect from the community he served and loved.

May he rest in peace.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 16, 2018 at 9:51 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

An honorable man that stood up to corruption. RIP. Only the good die young. And, yes, these days, 58 is young.

Like this comment
Posted by Service
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 17, 2018 at 4:50 am

Thank you for letting us know about John’s life and service, Mr. Buckheit.

Like this comment
Posted by Missed
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:23 pm

He was a great man that did a lot of good shining a light on what was going on in Atherton.

1 person likes this
Posted by Trial
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:39 pm

I wish John Johns went to trial so we could have seen what was really going on behind closed doors in Atherton. He was paid not to go to trial. Atherton said it was cheaper to settle than go to trial. Is that true, or was Atherton hiding something. RIP John Johns. Sorry for what Atherton did to you.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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