John M. Motter


John M. Motter went peacefully to his eternal home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, Oct. 28. John was born in Wichita, Kan., on March 14, 1934, to J. Fred Motter, of Carthage, Ill., and Maude Evelyn Griggs, of Meade, Kan. When John was 2 years old, he and his family, which now included his stepfather George Adams, his mother Maude, two older sisters Betty and Marjorie, and one younger sister Georgia, moved to Oregon due to the Dust Bowl and Depression in Kansas. In Oregon, their family continued to expand with the addition of three more siblings: two brothers, Duane and Thomas, and a sister, Frances.

In 1952, John graduated from Grants Pass High School and shortly after served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He married Edna Ruth Wade in 1954 and they had three children: Neola, Steve and Karen Motter.

After his service, John majored in electrical engineering at San Diego State and went on to work as a sound engineer and in the Audio Animatronics Department at Disneyland. In 1969, John and his family moved to Colorado from Los Angeles to work with Parks and Wildlife/Game and Fish, relocating to the Pagosa Springs area to work at Navajo State Park. During this time, John’s first marriage ended and he moved to Florida to take a position as a technical writer at Disney World. However, he returned to Pagosa in 1973 and took a position as a typesetter with The Pagosa Springs SUN. Throughout his tenure with The SUN, he was given additional responsibilities in advertising sales, column writing, photography assignments, reporting, layout and composition makeup. In 1981, John was named managing editor at the SUN.

John’s love of local history grew throughout these years. He would spend much of his time hanging out with the local “old-timers” over morning coffee, listening to their stories. This, combined with his extensive research, enhanced his passion for the history of the Pagosa Springs area, feeding and developing his creative writing skills. Put to good use, he eventually created the column series “The Adventures of Hat Capote,” which ran in the Mountain Crier newspaper. During these years, he was busy serving on many local boards, as well. In 1982, John made the decision to leave The SUN to dedicate more time to researching and writing. This labor of love culminated into writing the book “Pagosa Country: The First Fifty Years, Pioneer History of Archuleta County,” which was published in 1984.

Another adventure began for John in 1984, when he met and married Vicki (Cunningham) Motter on March 7 and gained three stepchildren: Scott, Holly and Matthew Cunningham. With the downturn of the local economy, John and his family moved to Marble Falls, Texas, in 1986 to take a position as the Llano County editor for the Highlander Newspaper. While there, he received several newspaper awards, which included first place in Humorous Column Writing, first place in News Writing, Best Weekly Newspaper in Texas, and finishing second and third place in other writing categories. He also worked for other newspapers in Texas, including the Mabank Monitor and the Wylie News. John and Vicki returned to Pagosa Springs, where John returned to The SUN as a reporter and a columnist, writing a weekly column titled “Pagosa’s Past.” It was in the early 2000s John left The SUN a second time. He accepted the call to pastor Dulce Baptist Church in Dulce, N.M., on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, but continued to submit his weekly column. In addition to pastoring, John worked for 10 years for the Jicarilla Apache Nation at the Jicarilla Apache Department of Education, where he taught GED and adult education.

In 2017, when John retired, he and Vicki returned to Pagosa Springs to care for Vicki’s mother, Barbara Waters, and have continued to live here. On March 15, 2021, John miraculously survived an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture, though it left him unable to continue writing. During his lengthy recovery he was diagnosed with advanced cancer and placed in hospice care at home. Though a difficult season in life, the gift of an additional year and a half together with his family was a tremendous blessing from the Lord.

John is survived by his wife, Vicki; his children, Steve Motter (Carla) and Neola Motter; stepchildren Scott Cunningham (Terri), Holly Everett (Mark), Matthew Cunningham (Millianne); siblings Georgia Marshall, Thomas Adams (Ellen), Frances Lexutt; grandchildren Andrew Everett, Alyssa Edmonds, Evan Everett, Bryson Cunningham (Abigail), Cole Everett (Monika), Anne Everett, Hayden Cunningham, Gracen Cunningham, Hudson Cunningham, Lydia Edmonds; and great grandchild Timothy Cunningham. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and mother-in-law.

John was preceded in death by his parents, George Adams, Maude Adams; his sisters Betty Mershon, Marjorie Smith; brother Duane Adams; and daughter Karen (Motter) Edmonds.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at the Pagosa Bible Church, 209 Harman Park Drive in Pagosa Springs, Colo., on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 1:30 p.m.

The family of John Motter would like to thank: the amazing staff at Hospice of Mercy, especially our personal hospice nurse Stacey Barker; Drs. David Shaeffer, Amber Reiss-Holt and the staff at Pagosa Medical Group; Amazing Grace Community Church; and our many dear friends and family who have been praying for John and that have given selflessly of their time.