John Sherman Sexton – A Grandpa by Choice

John Sherman Sexton & Deane Alice Duval, 25 May 1985, Wellpinit, Washington

I have a five branch tree.

A branch for each of my grandparents.  And in my case, that means there are five branches.

When I was born, my tree was pretty ordinary with just four branches.  I suppose the part that wasn’t ordinary is that one of my grandparents was alive, but I had never met him.

My tree went from ordinary to extraordinary when in 1985, for the first time, I had someone to call Grandpa on my Mom’s side of the family.

Grandpa Jack.

Grandma married John Sherman Sexton on 25 May 1985 in Wellpinit, Washington.  They were married on the reservation.  Grandpa Jack was a full 11 years and 3 months younger than Grandma.  (Go Grandma!)  This was a third marriage for Jack and a cough, cough higher numbered marriage for Grandma.  I will add, however, that this marriage was her first during my lifetime.

Grandpa Jack had no children or grandchildren of his own and instantly he became my Grandpa.  He inherited ten grandchildren that day in May.  Ten grandchildren who all call him Grandpa Jack.

He could have simply been “just another husband” to Grandma, but he embraced his role as Grandpa.  He chose to love all ten of us and consider us his grandchildren.

He also chose to love and care for his four adult step-children.  One of my uncles lived with Grandma and Grandpa for about 30 years of their 32+ year marriage.  That didn’t always go smoothly, but, Grandpa understood that we were all here first, and he loved Grandma so that meant he was willing to embrace everything about her life including a son who struggled to get his life together.

I have so many treasured memories that include Grandpa Jack.  More than I can possibly list.  And sadly, I will gather no new memories of this wonderful Grandpa of mine.

On Thursday, 16 August 2018, John Sherman Sexton passed peacefully in his sleep.  He was just 74 years old.

He passed one month and one day shy of a year after Grandma passed.  He had been missing her terribly.  If he was going to be taken so young, I’m just grateful he died in his sleep and that he is once again reunited with Grandma.

I have one big complaint though.

He totally stood me up!  We had a date planned to sit together and look through all of his family photos.  He was going to tell me who everyone was.  Thankfully, he had already given me many photos and we had labeled those.  I just hope that I have enough clues to figure out the rest.  If not, I guess he is just going to have to make a visit in my dreams.  😉

Grandpa Jack, thank you for choosing to be my Grandpa.  I love you!  I will miss you.  Thank you for giving me a five branch tree.



John Sherman Sexton

born – 3 October 1943 in Hanford, Kings, California

died – 16 August 2018 in Chattaroy, Spokane, Washington



12 thoughts on “John Sherman Sexton – A Grandpa by Choice”

  1. My condolences. May his memory remain a blessing to you and your family. My husband’s stepmother was very close to our children. A few years after his dad died, she remarried. And her husband became a grandpa to my children. They still keep in touch even thou their nana passed two years ago. Family of the heart!

    1. Thank you, Ellen. Yes, family of the heart is exactly the right phrase. I’m so glad that your children were blessed with extra grandparents as well. It really adds so much to our lives. <3

  2. This story is happy & sad. Had he been ill before his passing? He was one year older than I am. You have spoken of him before & since his death is very recent, you must still be in mourning. I am very sorry that you’ve lost these dear family members, but I hope you have a few more stories about them for us & yourself. Know that love, hugs & prayers are being sent to you at this sad time.

  3. Wonderful piece on John Sherman Sexton. The cough, cough part had me smiling even though the reason for your post is sad. So very sorry for the loss of your Grandpa and condolences to all of the family.

    1. Thank you, Cathy, I appreciate your kind words.

      About that cough, cough part… the number is high. But it’s also disputed so it’s just better to leave it out. Haha.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. I call my “extra” grandfather a volunteer grandpa. Since my mother was somewhat estranged from her dad, her step dad was always Grandpa to us. He not only volunteered to be a dad but also a Grandpa when we were born. My mother didn’t have any siblings which made this grandpa so special to us. I’ll bet your Grandpa Jack and my Grandpa Shell would have been great friends!

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