From Cuke What's New Blog (18-08-02) -
Just got a Facebook post from Judith Keenan that dear friend John Bermel
Klamathon Fire Wikipedia page -
As David Silva pointed out, John was the only fatality of that fire,
listed as John Karl Bermel dying of fire related causes.
From Judith Keenan's Facebook post
(with 38 comments):
This photo is of John Bermel in the shop at Tassajara Zen Mountain
Center. He went to the work periods at Tassajara starting in the 1980's,
helped during the summer at Tassajara if they were stretched, and went
to the work periods at Green Gulch Farm. He died in the Klamathon Fire.
David Silva -
Friends remember Hornbrook man killed in Klamathon Fire -
on KTVL site with video
Details released in lone Klamathon Fire death - An
earlier brief KTVL report
above stories article text and photos only below
I, DC, posted this comment: Thanks for sharing this Judith. John was a
very close friend, He used to come work on our home with Dennis Samson
and me in Sebastopol and latter at John Tarrants when I was in the barn
there. Katrinka and I are sad to hear the news.
Dianne Renshaw wrote:
John was a pillar of work period and a wonderful man to have known all
these years. Gate, gate...missing him already.
Renshin Bunse wrote: Oh wow. I remember him. He told me the fig tree
down by the suburbs came from a slip off a tree in his family's yard.
Nice nice guy. He was one of the ones who'd sleep in the parking lot the
night before work period started.
Graham Ross wrote:
Oh my, Heartbreak! John was a dear friend and one of those long time
practitioners who was so dedicated to the service of the Sangha. I
totally admired him. Deep loss here. Many bows.
Linda MacElwee -
Safe journeys John. A Good, kind hearted soul. Always volunteering his
time at Tassajara and he helped out up here at Shenoa. He always liked
that Andy had a made a rooted cutting of that fig down by the Tassajara
lower barn, a Desert King variety, now growing at our home.
Taiyo Lipscomb -
Thanks Judith, i remember his well as he usually had something sage to
say when we bowed in at the shop during the work period. So sad ...
Mako Voelkel -
I am so sorry
to hear that John Bermel died! He was the longest-going work period
person and Tassajara-lover that I had ever met, and I looked forward to
seeing him each WP... Judith, do you know the details of what happened?
He was such a kind and sweet person, always ready to jump in and help
with whatever was needed!
From Tassajara Newsletter
Smith, City Center's Director, remembers John Bermel (above), a good
friend of Tassajara who died in the Klamathon Fire in June [July 5]:
came to Tassajara in the early 70's and set up a tent on the lawn during
one of the early work periods. He came nearly every spring work period
since and even spent most of one summer at Tassajara as a guest student
I remember that he was very excited to try something different by being
at Tassajara at a time other than a work period. I admired him for doing
that in his late 60's.
deeply about Tassajara, the people he spent time with there, and the
work that he took on during work periods. I don't think it's an
exaggeration to say that he has worked on every structure at Tassajara
through the years. He was also mechanic and did a fair amount of tree
work. By the time I was plant manager, John had slowed down a bit
so we assigned him the job of making small fixes on all the residential
cabins. He was meticulous about carrying out the tasks.
him as being incredibly sincere and curious with an unflagging desire to
help. For me, his presence permeates Tassajara.
July 14, 2018 - Friends remember Hornbrook man killed
in Klamathon Fire -
KTVL - by Genevieve Grippo
— Friends are expressing deep sadness in the loss of the man who
died as the devastating Klamathon Fire tore through the town of
Hornbrook, which burned nearly 38,000 acres in northern California and
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as
72-year-old John Bermel. The office said an autopsy confirmed his
injuries were consistent with a fire-related death, but the cause and
manner of death will not be determined until toxicology tests return
from the lab.
According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, evidence shows he was packing up his
truck with his belongings when he was overcome by the flames.
"From what we can determine, John was planning to evacuate," said
Christina Mickle, a long-time friend and ex-partner of Bermel's. "And
then for some reason he went back into his house, and we don't know why
and we will probably never know why."
In the meantime, those who knew Bermel remember him as a kind and gentle
personality. She said he lived alone in his Hornbrook home, but was a
"He is probably one of the most generous souls that I have ever met,"
said Mickle. "And due to his humility, he probably would not acknowledge
the impact that he had on others, and how much he was truly loved and
Mickel said Bermel was born in Berkley, California, and lived in the
state nearly his whole life. She said he was a Vietnam Veteran, and
described him as having a "brilliant mind."
"John Bermel is a very unique individual, and I've never met anyone
quite like him," she said. "It was his ideals that compelled him to make
the world a better place."
Mickel's words are echoed by the staff of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands
Center, an Ashland-based organization focused on preserving and
restoring local wilderness. Bermel volunteered there on and off for 15
"He was really interested in our stewardship program, where we go out
and restore and protect special places on public lands," said Joseph
Vaile, Executive Director for KS Wilds. "And he had actually been
planning to go on a trip we're doing this weekend."
According to Vaile, Bermel was active and did not show his 72 years of
age. He was the type of volunteer who was always prepared and willing to
"He would always bring stuff to these events like all the cooking gear
you could ever imagine on a wilderness trip," said Vaile. "He was always
the one who had the thing you needed when you forgot it."
Both Mickel and Vaile said Bermel was not an avid user of technology. He
did not own a computer and would go to the public library to use his
email. Instead of social media and texting, he preferred hand-written
letters-- the most recent of which a staff member at KS Wild received
"You don't find that often in this day of Twitter-- people writing long
letters about what they're doing, what they're working on," said Vaile.
"But it seemed like John was one of those people that valued that kind
Bermel is remembered to have a passion for the outdoors, specifically
the hot springs found along the Klamath River. Vaile said it would be
incredible to see the area restored as a tribute to Bermel's life.
July 12, 2018 - Details released in lone Klamathon fire death
Calif. — Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey has identified the man
who was killed as a result of the Klamathon Fire.
During a community meeting Sheriff Lopey identified him as 72-year-old
John Karl Bermel.
He was found on his property on Pilot St in Hornbrook.
Sheriff Lopey says it happened July 5th, during the mandatory evacuation
in his neighborhood. Evidence shows he was packing up his truck with his
belongings, when he was overcome by the flames.
The autopsy results were conducted Wednesday, but toxicology results
have not come back yet