John E. Theberge

john theberge
John Ernest Theberge, 78, passed away January 17, 2023 after a difficult battle with esophageal cancer and the effects of its treatment. He was born October 31, 1944 in Lawrence, MA, the second of three children born to Ernest and Rena Theberge.

John grew up near Boston, MA in the areas of Methuen, Lawrence and Andover. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA and Saint Michael’s College, Winooski, VT. As a child he spent many memorable summers with his family at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and there became an accomplished water skier and an avid reader. Under the influence of his mother he acquired a love for books and literature, especially the Shakespearean tragedies.

During some summers John worked in the textile mills in Lawrence, MA—an experience that convinced him he needed to go on to college. He found Saint Michael’s to be a great experience and was a life-long proponent of a liberal arts education and supporter of the college.

After college, John began law school at Georgetown University, but was drafted into the army after his first year and sent to Vietnam. He worked in military intelligence during his service, primarily reviewing aerial surveillance photos. His time in Vietnam deeply affected him, and provided him with lasting friendships and memories that were the basis of numerous entertaining stories of war and the military.

He returned to law school at Georgetown after Vietnam. He graduated in 1972 with a Juris Doctorate degree, and took a job with the Internal Revenue Service. In the early 1980s he took a position as a partner in the Washington, DC office of Kutak Rock, specializing in the federal income taxation of state and local government obligations. While working with Kutak, he met Dianne Loennig Stoddard, and they married in 1993.

He later continued his law career with the firms of Long Aldridge & Norman and then Holland & Knight and earned a Master of Laws degree in taxation from Georgetown. John retired from the practice of law in 2016. A lifelong learner, he said that working had interrupted his education, and he enrolled in a masters program at Marymount University. In 2022 he received a Master of Arts in English and Humanities and was recognized as an Outstanding Graduate Student by the faculty.

He was a sports fan with a deep knowledge and understanding of many sports, especially baseball and the Boston Red Sox. He was athletic as well. He ran marathons into his 60s, and loved cycling. John frequently did long bike trips, and at one point trained to climb Alpe d’Huez, a mountain on the famous Tour de France course.

John and Dianne made their home with their dogs in Vienna, VA. John loved all his dogs, but one of his favorites was Fred, an elegant mixed breed with an amazing talent for catching frisbees and an ability to help John through difficult times.

It is impossible to capture John’s life in a few sentences and paragraphs. Those who loved him knew they could count on his quick booming laugh and accompanying clap and his unfailing generous nature. You knew he took the time to care about you and the issues you cared about and if he disagreed with you, you knew that too. He traveled the world from Boston to Nebraska, to Canada, to Europe and India. On one of his last trips, John discovered North Dakota did exist, despite years of joking and insisting that it did not. John was the best kind of person—a wonderful, kind husband, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, brilliant thinker, reader, storyteller, student, attorney, gadget collector, and part-time home architect/project maker.

He was preceded in death by his parents. His is survived by his wife, Dianne Stoddard, Vienna VA, his brother Paul Theberge and sister-in-law Barbara Theberge, Haverhill, MA, his sister Nancy Theberge, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, cousins Susan Michael, Brunswick, ME, and Iris Burnell, Petoskey, MI, his god-daughters Tina Marie Melella and Carole Lynne Bedell, Gainesville, VA, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Wilma and Moninder Jabbal, Frisco, TX and Mary and Gerald Jacobson, Omaha, NE and by his beloved nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.

Services will be held Thursday, January 26 at 11:00 AM at Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, VA. Memorials may be sent to Marymount University, Arlington, VA, and St. Michael’s College, Winooski, VT.

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  1. The Owners and Staff at the Money and King Funeral Home, wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call us anytime as we are always available to you.

    Bob Gallagher
    Funeral Director

  2. I practiced law with John at the Kutak firm and at Long Aldridge. He was a great lawyer, so kind and generous with his time and John had a great sense of humor.

    The world lost a great person – he will be missed. May his memory be a blessing.

  3. John was my law partner at Kutak. In addition to the practice of “103 law” we shared a common love of the Red Sox and of running. John was a good friend and reliable colleague. I remember John describing Diana as a “goddess” for whom he was not deserving. My heart goes out it to Diane and his family.

  4. I was fortunate to claim both John and Dianne as friends. He and I worked together on a few legislative matters, but the real reason he tolerated me was because I was the one who suggested to a mutual friend that John should ask Dianne out, resulting in the greatest love story I’ve ever seen up close.

    I think John and Dianne’s favorite thing to do was to go out to dinner. Twice a year we would drive out to Harris’ Crab House and behave like gluttons, hammering those crabs into smithereens, and then gulping down Nutty Buddies. We also shared a wonderful tradition of celebrating our birthdays together by having dinner at a restaurant chosen by the person whose birthday we were honoring.

    Somehow, at every meal, John and I would argue: about things we agreed on. I don’t know how or why that happened, but it always did. Once we argued about whether Moby Dick was superior to the works of Shakespeare. Think about that: sitting in a foodie restaurant in the trendy “new” downtown of DC, a retired tax lawyer was passionately focused on whether a difficult 19th century tome was “better” than the works of the greatest writer in the English language. He revered Shakespeare, but something in Moby Dick spoke to him (but not to me; hence the argument). The breadth of John’s intellect and his innate curiosity was reflected in his decision to pursue a degree in literature rather than continuing along his chosen career path. He struggled at first (“What do you mean, what does the author mean? It means what is written.”). It took him a while to stop reading Othello as if it were the tax code.

    John was smart, opinionated, funny, and besotted with Dianne. It was such a joy to be around them and to see the glow in his eyes when he looked at her. His adoration of Dianne was palpable. He esteemed her brain, her beauty, and her good-natured kindness (the feeling was mutual of course). And I think he even loved her more than the sainted Fred and the succession of Labradors that cycled through their home.

    John was not ready to leave Dianne and the dogs, or the Red Sox, or Nebraska football, or us. He desired – and deserved – more time. Such a loss.

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