May 12, 1930 – September 10, 2020
John was born May 12, 1930 in Fernie, BC to Salute (Fantuz) and Vittorio, immigrants from Friuli, Italy. He grew up with his brother Eddie (Alice) and sister Eda (Graziano Favaro) in Fernie where he graduated from high school. During the summers, he worked in the nearby coal mines at Coal Creek and fished the Elk River.
After earning an honours degree in mathematics in 1952 and a teacher training diploma from UBC, John accepted a position at the Trail junior high school where he taught mathematics, English, science and physical education. In 1956, John moved to J. Lloyd Crowe where he taught students in English and mathematics. In 1961, his teaching shifted entirely to mathematics and he was appointed head of the department. Also, at this time, he obtained a Bachelor of Education degree at UBC and a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics Education from Washington State University. In 1966, John was appointed assistant to Principal J.V. Macdonald until 1971 when he accepted a position as chair of Mathematics Department at the newly created Cariboo College, which ultimately became Thompson Rivers University. During this time, John won a teaching merit award in 1985 and was presented with the inaugural Master Teacher Award in 1988. He also founded the Provincial High School Mathematics Contest which now attracts students from across the province. During the transition of Cariboo College to TRU, John was heavily involved in curriculum development, course planning and establishing transfer credit with major universities. He retired in 1995. In 2006, Thompson Rivers University bestowed John with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
John and Lorna Swanson were married in Trail in 1957. They shared 62 years together until Lorna’s passing in 2019. They were blessed with wonderful children who enriched their lives. David (Rebecca), Gerry (Catherine) and Jean (Jeff). Nonno loved his grandchildren Amelia, Ethan, Danielle and Jordan and he will be greatly missed by his family. John also enjoyed the time he spent with his in-laws, Jean (Gordon) Smith, George (Vivian) Swanson, Norma (Wally) Russell and Phyllis (Barclay) Draper. He was generously loved by cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, friends and colleagues too numerous to mention.
There were many talents and hobbies enjoyed by John over his 90 years, including fishing, curling, gardening, golfing and reading. He supplied family and friends with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and squash. Lorna was able to can enough tomato sauce to last the entire winter. John’s love of reading never diminished and he spent his later years revisiting many classics from his teaching days. He also played Wordscraper with family members and was a challenging opponent. John had many culinary talents including his legendary risotto which was a frequent request. The family dinner table was always a source of good conversation, political debates and discussions on the latest news – with the guarantee of a mathematical problem to keep everyone thinking. John’s life was marked by a passion for both learning and teaching and he dedicated his life, as he dedicated his Doctor of Letters degree, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s words,
“To all those who love to learn and to all those who love to teach.”
The family wishes to thank the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Hospice House for providing excellent care during his final days. Special thanks to Dr. Susan Vlahos for her endless support during this difficult time and to Dr. Baker and Dr. Barnard for their compassionate care.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to a scholarship in John’s memory at Thompson Rivers University. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and reference Dr. John Ciriani, Mathematics Scholarship/Awards Fund.
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