John Opinsky Obituary
December 24, 1968 - January 6, 2021
John Paul Opinsky entered the world on December 24, 1968 here in Anchorage, Alaska. As a Christmas Eve baby, his mother Edie loved to share that he was a gift from the time he arrived in the world, as he was presented to her by the nurses at Providence Hospital with a big red bow on top of his head!
And a gift to the world he remained for a vibrant 52 years of a life filled with huge trout, endless hours of baseball in the land of the midnight sun, and a wife and three sons that meant the world to him.
John loved, and will always be loved by, his family. He is deeply missed by his wife of nearly 23 years Catherine (Cathy) and their three sons Robert (Jack), Nicholas (Nicko) and James (Jimmy); brother Bill Opinsky and his daughter Alex; sister Celine Kaplan with her husband Greg and their children Sam and Meredith. John was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Edie
As a third-generation Alaskan, John grew up in Downtown Anchorage, and enjoyed a fun-filled childhood with his dedicated parents Bob and Edie, his older brother Billy, little sister Celine and the pack of neighborhood kids. Days were spent pulling salmon out of Willow Creek with his dad, playing basketball in the back alley, hockey at the Inlet View rink, and student government (and antics) with his pack of friends from West High.
John loved people, and he easily collected friends and enjoyed conversations with folks from all backgrounds. John attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he met some of his favorite people, who would remain his loyal buddies for decades. Several years after returning to Anchorage he began his career in commercial real estate, where he quickly proved his business acumen, culminating as partner in the firm Frampton & Opinsky. He was able to work with the best in the industry and was proud of the team they created over the years.
When John met his wife Cathy at a mutual friend’s wedding, he was swept off his feet. Not too long later he brought her to his “secret fishing spot” with a bottle of wine he engraved with a proposal. They created a life together that those who knew them called a storybook romance. He loved nothing more than spoiling her, complete with romantic getaways to Half Moon Bay, beach time in Waikiki, and shopping excursions in Seattle. Even with John’s many hobbies and interests, his first priority was always the woman he affectionately called “Darlin”.
John was thrilled at the arrival of his son Jack in 2001, who was then followed just 14 months later by the birth of his twin sons Nicko and Jimmy. A life with his trio of boys honed his love of sports and his care for the next generation. As a committed youth baseball and hockey coach for many years, he was not just a leader on the field and ice, but was seen as a father figure to dozens of kids who looked up to him. He leaves behind a coaching legacy renowned for demonstrating and reiterating key life lessons, and a desire to know the whole kid, not just their stats and athletic ability. For many, when they hear the word “Coach”, he will be the one who always comes to mind.
John was known for his one-liners that included the following signature phrases; “Learn lots”, a saying he would shout to the boys as they walked of the door for school, the same message his father always gave him. He was also known for saying, “show me the company you keep, and I’ll tell you who you are.” By this measure, John was an enormously generous, caring and hilarious guy. He was the high-water mark of what a man should be. He was the best of us.
To know John, was to know a good time. He loved adventure and had the opportunity to catch Giant Trevally and bonefish off Christmas Island, expertly rafted Alaskan rivers such as the Gulkana, and enjoyed golfing the greens of Kona (yet he did absolutely hate the roller coasters at Disney Land). He would want his love of life to live on in all us.
John was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer in the Spring of 2019. John faced his cancer diagnosis with bravery and defiance, telling the Anchorage Daily News in August, “I’m showing my sons I’m not going anywhere, and I’m going to live my life to the fullest…I can do my part and keep fighting.” In John’s last 18 months of life, he lived life more fully than most people hope to attain in decades. During this time, John caught tarpon and permit in Florida, brown and rainbow trout in Montana, spent time at Nancy Lake with his three boys, finalized some of the largest real estate deals of his career, enjoyed dinners with his wife Cathy at their favorite destination Southside Bistro, and lived his epic Alaska lifestyle filling the freezer with caribou and moose. He proudly encouraged his son Jimmy in his successful pursuit to become West High Student Body President, as well as his quest for a career in aviation. John was the Anchorage West High hockey photographer and Twitter author, cheering on his son Nicko as he brought home the State Championship in February of 2020. Then just five months later as the head coach of the Anchorage West High Baseball team, John secured the State Baseball Championship for the first time since 1977 with an awe-inspiring final play by his son Jack Opinsky.
John passed away peacefully on the afternoon of January 6, 2021 in his Anchorage home by the fireplace, sporting his West High Baseball Championship ring, with his Red Sox blanket over his lap and surrounded by his loving family.
A date and time for a memorial celebration will be planned later in the summer when friends and family can gather together once again. The Opinsky family sends their thanks to everyone for your outpouring of support, pizza and hugs during this trying time. Your love and admiration for John and his family has been felt. You’re all amazing, thank you.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send donations in John’s memory to Providence Alaska Foundation, Hospice Program or contribute to the John Opinsky Baseball Scholarship Memorial Fund at Alaska Community Foundation.
"That condition, that contradiction, which afflicts everyone who thinks at all: The more you strive to be sensible and serious and meaningful, the less chance you have of becoming so. The primary objective is to laugh"
-John D. MacDonald
Celebration of life
A Celebration of Life will be held at Flattop Pizza & Pool
Sunday June 27, 2021
Baseball Memorial Fund
A fund in John's memory has been created at the Alaska Community Foundation.
The fund will be used to support baseball-related programs and projects in the Anchorage area for many years.