John Lingan Pasley, 84, passed peacefully from this world in the early morning hours of December 28, 2020, in Boonville, MO, where he had retired after a long and eventful career as an engineer, businessman, and public official. A memorial service to honor his life will be held at a later date when family and friends can gather safely.
The eldest son of Mary K. Holtman and James L. Pasley, long-time bridge engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, John grew up in Jefferson City and followed in his father’s footsteps to study civil engineering at the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, where he was a proud member of ROTC and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, graduating in 1959. That same year, he began his eight years in the U.S. Army Reserves by completing the Corps of Engineers officer training course at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Through the wonders of road-ready 1950s college dating, he met Lindenwood College student Julia Ann Hoyt, of Lake Quivira, Kansas, and they were married on July 30, 1960, the beginning of six happy decades together. They spent the tumultuous 1960s having three children in as many years and moving four times in five years.
Restless about everything but his love for his family, John used civil engineering as the base of a career that took him to San Francisco; Portland and Salem, Oregon; Kansas City; Frankfort, Kentucky; Topeka, Kansas; and back to Kansas City again, just in the first phase. His longest stint was with Topeka-based Burgwin, Martin, & Assoc., consulting engineers, where he became general manager in 1972 and eventually the owner (of the renamed Burgwin, Pasley). Through that work, countless highways, streets, phone lines, sewer systems and other public infrastructure projects were surveyed, designed, and built, especially in rural Kansas and Appalachia.
He and Julie stayed in Topeka almost long enough for their children to finish high school. Then they rode the economic rollercoaster of the 1980s, operating several innovative “design-build” firms in and around the Kansas City area before landing in the small historic town of Weston, Missouri, where they lived for 23 years. In Weston, John and Julie owned and personally ran the well-known Benner House Bed and Breakfast for 10 years, hosting a houseful of guests every weekend plus many weekdays. John seemed to enjoy being the raconteur and tour guide on call, even though he was also keeping up a day job 50 miles away, overseeing a major highway project in Douglas County, Kansas. He eventually retired from both innkeeping and Douglas County, taking a new job in downtown Kansas City at HNTB, where one of the major projects he worked on was the Kansas Speedway.
While rarely political, John had a real gift for public service, always looking to improve any community he lived in and taking on necessary tasks that others ignored. After building one of the first houses on the north side of Topeka’s Lake Sherwood in the early ’70s, he and Julie realized that the only available fire protection had to come from the other side of the county. So John ran for the obscure local office of township trustee and spearheaded the creation of the Mission Township Fire Department, finding the money to build a firehouse in the middle of what were then empty fields but soon became a heavily populated suburban area. In Weston, he served two terms as an alderman and as the long-time president of the Park Board, overseeing much-needed improvements to the town’s creekside City Park and transforming it into a real community amenity. Wherever they lived, John and Julie also became heavily involved in their chosen church, especially Weston United Methodist Church, where John was on the Official Board in many different capacities, and First Presbyterian Church in Boonville.
Though always seemingly happiest working on a difficult project, John and Julie also worked hard at having fun, playing in tennis tournaments during their younger days and boating on the two lakes where they lived, including competing in the weekly sailboat regattas at Lake Sherwood. Despite his landlocked childhood, sailing was the hobby that John pursued most passionately. Eventually he and Julie graduated from tacking around windy Midwestern lakes to sailing a 36-foot Beneteau along the eastern and western coasts of Florida, before finally losing the boat — and their career on the seas — to Hurricane Katrina.
The highlight of John’s life with Julie was their three children, Jeffrey Pasley (Karen), of Columbia, Missouri; Dr. Jennifer Pentecost (Percy) of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Joel Pasley (Dana), of Lenexa, Kansas; and their six grandchildren, Isaac, Owen, Josh, Samantha, Abigail, and Gus, all of whom survive. Other survivors include his younger brother Jim and sister-in-law Ruth, nephews Jamie and Jonathan, grandnephew Bond and grandniece Quinn, beloved cousin Sally Bailey and her husband Barry, niece Kate Simcoe, and cousin Jack Holtman and his family.
Memorial contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church, 417 Vine Street, Boonville, MO 65233.
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