John Wiester

Date of Birth

January 6, 1935

Date of Death

June 30, 2024

City of Death

Buellton, CA

John Lauren Wiester, 89, of Buellton, CA went to be with the Lord on June 30, 2024 at home with his family.

John was born in Los Angeles to John Stewart and Marjorie Simmonds Wiester in 1935. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father was a depression era insurance broker. Raised in Hancock Park neighborhood, John rode horses in Griffith Park and fell in love with western riding in horse shows and competitions. At age 14, he was LA County’s Junior Western Champion.

He attended Orme Ranch School, on a 40,000-acre cattle ranch, in Mayer, Arizona, where his chores were milking cows and riding the cattle drive. He went on to Stanford University, where he majored in Geology and was president of Delta Upsilon Fraternity, making many lifelong friends. John also earned an MBA from Stanford while teaching in the Geology department.

In 1957, John married Susan Rees and had two children, Jeffrey and Susan. After serving in the US Army Intelligence Corps in the late 50’s, John returned to Los Angeles where he worked at Casualty Insurance Company, J. Barth and Company and Redcor. In 1963, John married Merry Wright Govan and adopted her daughter Jill. The couple then had two children, James and Joni. The new family moved to Santa Barbara where he took over Astro Industries. He later married Rebecca Alberts and welcomed stepchildren Brooke and Scott.

In 1970, upon the death of his father, John took over management of the family ranch in Buellton, California and became a full-fledged cattle rancher.

John found lasting love and partnership with Georgia, to whom he was married in 1980, welcoming her and her daughter, Allison, into ranching life. It was Georgia who introduced John to the Lord and, grounded in their deeply held faith, they remained married for 44 years. The couple were well known and loved and became a fixture in the larger community of the Santa Ynez Valley, welcoming many to their house on the hill.

Throughout his life, John was involved in entrepreneurial pursuits including helping to start the high-tech company Quadtec in Redland, Washington. His relentless intellectual curiosity led him to do extensive research into the connection between the Bible and science, resulting in the Thomas Nelson publication of his first book The Genesis Connection in 1983. The success of the book opened the door to other publications and to teaching opportunities at Biola University and Westmont College.

Always a cowboy at heart, John loved the ranch life. Even when at work at his desk, he kept an eye on his herd from his office window. The Rio Vista Cattle Company grew and is still flourishing thanks to his nephew John Thorne. His favorite rodeo event was Team Penning, and he was proud to hold the world record (with his nephew John), for a brief time. He and his steed Fancy Heels made a terrific pair. John also enjoyed canoeing and bow hunting and took many eventful hunting trips with his close friends. Later, he rediscovered a passion for bridge and movies, hosting Men’s Night at the Movies with friends for many years. He loved to dance and, ever the romantic, to play matchmaker.

John is survived by his wife Georgia, his sister Barbara Thorne, cousins Rick, Susie and Patty, his eight children and stepchildren, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Pops, as he was affectionally called, will be sorely missed.

A memorial service will be held at the Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church on Sunday, August 25th at 2pm.


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