John was a local boy who grew up on a horse ranch in Montecito, and attended local schools. He graduated from Santa Barbara High School, class of 1956 and then attended Oregon State on a football scholarship, playing for legendary caoch Tommy Prothro, on a team that went to the 1956 Rose Bowl.
John was known to “hot rod” around Santa Barbara in the 1950’s, so it was no surprise that he would make a career in the automative business that would continue for over 60 years, starting first with the Chevrolet division of General Motors in Van Nuys. While living there, he met the love of his life, Lauren Leventhal, and they married in 1963. He spent the 60’s and early 70’s with GM, which took him to San Diego and Washington state with Chevrolet. Having enough of the corporate life, John decided to venture out on his own to start Mission City Leasing in 1975. The family picked up from San Diego, and moved to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He also owned the local Chevrolet dealership Fixe Star Chevrolet for a period of time in the mid 1980’s. Mission City Auto Center was a longtime fixture on lower State Street in the 1980’s, and then later on Hollister Avenue as a seller of work trucks. Many customers became friends and would stop by to just shoot the breeze with “Papa John”.
In his spare time, when John wasn’t out chopping wood and collecting western memorabilia he was an amazing silversmith. Taught by his father Dean Mullins, John made beautiful silver and gold western belt buckles, hat bands and earrings for family and friends.
John is survived by Lauren, to whom he was married of 58 years; his children Todd (Corby), Marc (Renee), Jennifer Fisher (Kevin); his grandchildren Addison, Mackenna, Shane, Drew; his sister Jeanette Taylor, brother Gary Mullins, and numerous nieces and nephews.
“Papa John” was a master on the wood fired grill. Legendary tri-tips and ribs, with chopped peppers were standard fire for gatherings with family and friends. Everyday was a good day for a frie in the hearth, as he “twice warmed” our hearts.
Donations can be made in his name to: