John Jury Drees

The memorial service for John Jury Drees, 60, Lawrence, that was scheduled for 1:00 pm, Saturday, April 4th, at Ecumenical Christian Ministries (ECM) at 1204 Oread in Lawrence, has been postponed.

John died March 3, 2020, at his home.

He was born January 8, 1960, in Boulder, CO, the son of Linus Sigmund and Barbara Jeanne Jury Drees. John’s family moved to Kansas in 1968, where he graduated from Holcomb High School in 1978. With a strong interest in the medical field, he was among the first paramedics in the state, leading him to earn a BSN from The University of Kansas.

After nursing school, he worked in the Emergency Department at KU Medical Center before joining the LMH Emergency Dept in 1992, where he worked for many years.

John was a incredible asset for the community, working tirelessly locally and nationally as a representative for the Safe Kids Coalition, and in 2010, he produced an Instructor’s Training video for use in the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training program. He was presented the Vision Award from LMH in 2000, and after 26 years he retired from LMH Health as a Community Education Specialist.

Locally, John’s voice was heard on TV commercials, and his voiceover work was something he enjoyed doing. He briefly worked as an overnight DJ on a Topeka radio station, and had volunteered at Audio Reader for 20 years. He enjoyed hosting parties for his various circles of friends, and was widely known for his humor and ability to share his many life stories with gusto.

Survivors include two sisters, Lucy Drees Oberle and husband Richard K. Kirchberg of Haysville, NC, Bernadette Drees Rogers and husband Stanley E. of Lawrence; a brother, Paul Herbert Drees and wife Karin S. of Lawrence; nieces and nephews, Matthew Drees Oberle and wife Betty, Nathan Drees Oberle and wife Brie-Anne Emerson, Bernadette Lynne Drees, Laura Clare Drees, Monica Jean Drees, and Benjamin Miles Drees. He was preceded in death by his parents.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Safe Kids Douglas County, https://safekidsdouglascountyks.org/ sent in care of the funeral home, PO Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044.

Messages & Condolences

From Jodi Morgan...

I am honored to call John a friend and am sad to say goodbye. He was one of the good ones.

From Kim Orth...

We only knew of John through Safe Kids, and he was such a comfort to us. We were new parents and incredibly nervous about bringing our son home in his carrier. John talked us through all the steps, made sure that we practiced before we left him, and gave us the confidence we needed to do this. Every time we needed a new car seat, we went back to John because we knew that he’d help us keep our children safe. Thank you, John, for all the blessings you gave the people of Lawrence. Your guidance, patience, and kindness will be missed.

From Jim Kearney...

Big John, I first met John in the ER @ LMH when I was a EMT in training. I was assigned to John. John taught our Kiwanis Club how to install child safety seats. I would run into John at the Walnut Valley Music Festival almost every year. A Giant of a man and a good man.

From Gloria Jacob...

So sorry to hear the sad news of John’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with John when I was teaching at Pinckney School. He helped us in so many ways; bicycle safety and wearing helmets, walking to school safely, using car seats and booster seats and many more activities. His visits were especially enjoyed by his nieces who attended Pinckney. After I retired, I would see John occasionally at the hospital. He would proudly update me on the nieces and the accomplishments they had made. Our community, as well as his family, will feel this loss. RIP John. Job well done.

From Greg L Simms...

God Speed My Friend.
Cheers to you in heaven John!
Rest in forever peace.

From Kelly Snapp...

John was one of the first people to greet me as a volunteer and an influence to me throughout my career. He was a pillar in the healthcare community. His kindness, compassion, intelligence and ability to effortlessly teach will always be remembered. I, like so many, will always remember your voice and your message. Rest In Peace John.

From Mike Weas...

Had many a beer with Big John at the Hawk and in Mexico will miss the big bear! God Bless!

From Patrick Mayo...

Its hard to think straight to realize ‘Big John’ is gone. I was one of his paramedic partners and it was always fun to come to work when john was on duty. When some days were almost unbearable John knew how to make people relax, both patients and partners. His humor was natural, kind and never mean. It was always exciting to hear his ‘voice overs’ on TV. We will never forget him. He was also an astounding Mexican chef!

From Ann Marie Boncella...

I am so very sorry to hear of John’s passing. I knew him from working with him at LMH in the Community Education department teaching CPR, Newborn Safety, Car Seat Checks, and Safe Sitter. I enjoyed getting to know him and loved hearing his stories over lunch. He will be missed. He was a true friend, kind and considerate. Rest In Peace.

From Karla Glunt Sauer...

Lucy & Bernadette: So sorry to hear John’s passing. Rememberiing all the good times we had at your home in Holcomb and your Dad as a teacher – may God bless your family at this time.

From John Gilbert, MD...

I remember John from working with the Finney Co. EMS when we were both much younger. He was a good kid and it sounds like he had a fulfilling and useful life. The world is a better place because he was here.

From Paula Hatcher...

Thank you, John, for your teaching many children, numerous CPR classes for the school district nurses, and your unassuming ways of being. A great nurse, a great man.

From Kim L Murphree...

So sad to hear this. I remember John and his kind strong guiding hands at LMH were a blessing to all. And what a voice! He will be missed!

From Samantha Castillo BSN, RN...

John- Such an amazing educator. All staff at Medicalodges Eudora enjoyed the education you provided to the staff on a regular basis. You always made it fun and kept it interesting. I always felt more prepared to care for patients after meetings with you. I went from being the LTC new grad nurse to taking that leap with your encouragement to become an emergency department nurse. I am with LMH emergency medicine due to your encouragement and believing in me. There are no words to thank you for everything you have done. May you Rest In Peace and keep everyone smiling and laughing.

From Theresa Condiff, RN...

I worked at LMH when John was a patient there in Dialysis. He was the most amazing man. I could talk to him all day long and it never got old. He was smart , witty and extremely funny! He will be missed greatly. i will never forget all the stories he had, they were priceless. Fly high my friend, you deserve it

From Jim Loucks...

John was a great role model in many ways, we had many good times together at DCAS in the 1980’s. What a sense of humor, he could always make me laugh. So long buddy.

From Michelle Derusseau...

John, you will be truly missed. I first met you as a freshman at KU and we share many fond memories of our days at the Hawk (it was great seeing you at the bartender reunion in August). In later years we had the opportunity to work together on some of your helmet programs and wonderful things you did for the community. Your kind heart, gentle nature and contagious laugh will be missed. I will cherish our memories, as well as the Hawk glasses you so generously entrusted me with. Thank you for your friendship. God bless.

From Connie Adams...

I have known John since he was 8 years old. Even at that age, he was smarter and funnier than anyone else around. I am extremely saddened by his death – such a kind and wise person. My heartfelt condolences to his family!

From Tammy Galloway...

What a loss of the kindest and smartest man I knew. The community is losing a beautiful person RIP John you will be missed!

From Mary Ann Watts...

Sorry to hear about you ,John. Didn’t know you well, but when I worked with you in the hospital, you’re joyful, patients , glowing actions made me feel important! Will miss you. Praying for your family.Mary Ann Watts

From Pam Brown...

John – I will miss you as will so many in our community. You were an amazing friend, paramedic, nurse, educator, and so much more. You have been an inspiration to me & so many. Rest in peace in the glory of the Angels you join.

From Karen Glotzbach...

John did not know a stranger, that’s for sure!! Many have been saved, and have stayed safer, because of all the many things John has done along with the many programs he has worked tirelessly at. I never knew him to be anything but kind, always helpful, and of course funny. Rest easy my friend!!

From Alia Ahmed...

John, you have had such a wonderful impact on the Lawrence community and will be missed greatly.

From Matthew Mikel...

I had the pleasure of working as an underling, then, eventually as a colleague. A great man with expanse of wisdom, vast whit, and never short on jocularity. There were always fun times to be had working with John. I cannot convey how much of a joy his humor, his knowledge, his humble and gentle presence will be missed. Once you had met John, you would never forget him. I was truly blessed to have crossed and walked paths with John.

From Tracy Hill...

What a big loss for all who have met and had the joy to interact with John. He was one of my first contacts when I started working in the “ER” many years ago. He was calm, knowledgeable, funny, had some many real life experiences to share, was patient, taught my boys first aid with Boy Scouts- they loved his real life stories and hands on help; he checked my car seats often when my kids were little; he was a go to guy for anything- was never intimidating- except maybe when you first saw him- had the best radio voice, and was one of the most influential professionally and personally, that I have had the honor of knowing- Godspeed John!

From Patty Villanueva...

RIP My Friend…You are missed…

From Joni Lawrence...

To the best of the best. John you will be missed my friend

From Ken “Count” Wallace...

“Big John” worked for me at The Jayhawk Cafe. We were lucky to see him at The Hawk’s 100th Anniversary Reunion. He was a wonderful man to work with and will be missed by many employees and customers.

From Lesa Frantz...

John enriched Pinckney Elementary School children’s lives for many years as he tirelessly and creatively worked as the LMH liaison for our business partnership. He spent many hours there, and everyone knew who Mr. Drees was (with the big deep voice) and the great things he did for our school. He was a funny, super smart, great human being- loved by so many.

From Dale Creed...

John,
Cannot imagine your recent life, as I struggle with my health challenges.
Gentle Giant that I was proud to know as a teammate, partner, and dear friend.
Godspeed w those angel wings: may you meet those whose lives have been touched.

From Larry Fish...

Back in the day, a worker fell from some scaffolding at Bailey Hall on the KU campus. He impacted several sections on the way down, rendering him unconscious and breaking an arm and possibly a leg. Fortunately, he landed head up in the muddy slog at the bottom of the pit that had been dug around the wing they were working on.
Big John and another EMT crawled down a ladder into the pit and waded through calf-deep mud to place the victim on a backboard. Another officer (I think it was Jim Hazlett) and I, and a couple construction workers, were already down there and it took all six of us to get the man out of the mud and onto a backboard. Then we walked him across the pit.
They put a second ladder beside the first one and we pushed the man, secured to the backboard, up the ladders. Being of similar size, John and I were elected to be the anchors of the crew and push from below as we slid him up to the “clean” crew.
He was a mountain of a man, strong as an ox, and a damn fine human being. He will be missed

From Ann Chapman...

Boonie,
I was so saddened to read the news of John’s death. His humor and kindness defined him. My sincerest condolences to you, Stan, and the rest of your family. You are all in my prayers.

From Teresa L Woodson...

Of all the people in this world, John was one of the few “human beings” So much compassion, intelligence and caring. Such a talent at story telling. I remember listening to Johns tales of his childhood, his early days as a paramedic. Laughing at his rendition of the announcer at Woodstock. I will miss you John. Rest easy and remember…wherever you are…”don’t take the brown acid”

From Lori Tilson...

I became a friend of John’s through working together at LMH. He was such a special person- so smart, compassionate and caring with his patients. Yet, John could also make us howl with laughter with his witty stories and general observations of life. Every shift that John worked was improved- for both the patients and his co-workers. A special soul has been lost to us and I hope that he is resting in peace. My condolences to his family- he was very proud of you and spoke about you at work. You will be missed John♥️

From Julie Nelson...

Well, I don’t believe in Heaven; however, I believe you will be with your mom and mine having a fun time! Your mother loved you so much! You were always her sweet baby!

From Vickie Goetz...

First meet John at LMH in the ER. Fun to work with and we became fast friends. Great sense of humor and a compassionate nurse! Sincere condolences to his family.

From Charissa Robertson...

I am saddened to hear of John’s passing. I have not seen him recently, but worked with him as a Child Passenger Safety tech through LMH and Safe Kids. He was a wonderful teacher and educated so many people at our hospital and in our community. He will be greatly missed!

From Carol Oneslager...

I am so sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was such a kind and fun man to work with. I loved to watch him with patients, especially the elderly. He was so gentle with them. I also enjoyed his impressions of Julia Child when he cooked. He was a very warm and sincere person and will be dearly missed!!!

From William Hale, M.D....

In his interactions with people and his ways of being in the world, John was an example for others, personifying compassion and generosity. I always felt good after talking with him. The Lawrence community was blessed by his presence. My deep condolences to all his family members.

From Dona Larson...

I worked with John he had such big heart and a big smile. He will truly be missed

From Shirley Dinkel...

While the 1980-1990s are a distant past, I still keenly feel John’s presence He will be missed by many. My day is a little less bright today after hearing of his passing.

From Donna Frantz...

I loved working with John in the ED many years ago. He made me laugh. He was an awesome, wonderful nurse and an even greater person. He will be greatly missed.

From Cindy Yulich...

John was truly a presence and had a real impact on the LMH community. He will be missed.

From Debbie Filkins...

A true gentle giant has gained his wings. He will he sadly missed here by many.

From Daina Zolck...

Most sincere condolences for all who loved John, which most certainly must have been everyone he was ever in contact. His sweet honesty, subtle ways, and soothing voice impacted the way he taught and guided others to being better people. I will always cherish our conversations and be thankful to John for both his work and sincerity.

From Marvin and Kathy Pine...

John was loved by all. He was such a kind loving being! We had many good times and so glad that he was a friend. Our sympathy go out to his family!

From Kirsten E Evans...

John did so much for the children of Kansas, with humor and kindness. His legacy will live long after him.

From Steven L. George...

I am so sorry for your loss please accept my deepest condolences.

From Gayle...

I am heart broken for John’s family and friends. He did so many things to make others safe in the world. I am so glad his voice will live on with his Safe Sleep Kansas project.

From Sherri Cannon...

I am very sadden to hear that John passed away. I was fortunate to have worked with him for over 20 years in child passenger safety. John was a leader in injury prevention field and had a national presence, his “Abby” video was used on a national level for many years. There are many things I will miss about John, mostly I will miss his wit.

From Joleen Bechtel...

So many of those who worked with John at LMH Health over the past many years will remember John’s big heart and we lovingly called him “Big John”, not just because of his height, but because of his big heart and love of everyone who crossed his path. I knew John in the Emergency Room and remember well, how he would sooth children’s fears and adults anxieties with his loving ways. He will indeed be missed by many.

From Linda Koester-Vogelsang...

Heaven now has another angel!! John was a gentle giant with an enormous wit and passion for the health care world. Your spirit, drive, care and zeal will be missed!

From Elena Nuss...

I had the good fortune of working w John on many Safe Kids Kansas projects. He was an outstanding person who really cared abt kids. He will b missed. Rest In Peace dear friend.

From anthony goetting...

I always looked forward to working when john was on in the Emergency Department, he loved and helped so many, had such a big heart, and always shared his love with his big smile…… He will be missed by many fire and medical personel that lived and worked with John through the years and we will never forget him…..so long buddy.

From Aynsley Anderson Sosinski...

I had the good fortune to work with John for many years through the LMH Health Community Education Department. His passion and commitment to improving the safety of children and families in our community was unmatched. In addition, his sense of humor kept our team laughing a large part of the day. RIP John; our team, the LMH Health larger “family,” and our community are all better because of your contributions.

From Cherie Sage...

John was such an amazing friend. He touched so many lives through his professional work with Safe Kids and the hospital, and was beloved by everyone who knew him. I will miss him.

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