John Stephen Splaine Jr, 77, passed away Thursday October 29 after a brief illness. Johnny, as he was known to family and friends, was the fourth child born to John and Mary Splaine of Cambridge Mass. He was a graduate of St Peters School in Cambridge and Cambridge High School. Upon completion of high school, he went on to trade school for radio communication and electronics. In 1962 John walked into recruiter’s office in Central Square and volunteered with the U.S. Army. He served in the 2d Battalion 6th infantry United States Army Berlin Brigadeuntil 1966.
Johnny was a man who loved games, any game. Whether it was playing board games like trivial pursuit, poker or scrabble with his family, or hanging with his buddies at the YMCA playing basketball and lifting weights. Of course, being a fan of games and living in New England, he was loyal to his beloved sports teams, the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics, even when their game play was less than optimal. He loved a good comeback story, so he also became a Chicago Cubs fan. His favorite game was playing in the Cambridge softball leagues for 40 years as a player, a team manager, and an umpire. After winning the city championship in 1987 with Drumlins Pub, the local paper named him a “pitcher’s pitcher”.
Johnny also had a lifelong love of running in the local road races. His favorites were the Doc Linskey and Sousa’s Rock races in Cambridge and the Feaster Five in Andover. His nieces pulled him out of retirement in his 60s to teach them how to run. Although he could never best his top speed in full combat gear from his army days John would get a kick out of occasionally winning his division in the “old man” bracket.
Always available to teach another how to play the games he loved, Johnny was often seen teaching someone how to hit a softball, the proper grip for a pitcher, and maybe if you were lucky a breakdown of his favorite pitches like the knuckleball, the screwball, the drop curve and the highly reliable two seam fastball. He was the master of a quick set-up volleyball net in the pool or a handball court on the patio. His love of family dominated his life, and he was always looking after a sister, a niece, or the kids as he called his great nieces and nephews.
John was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Mary Splaine, Christine Splaine, and Margaret Pritts. He is survived by his three nieces Ona Blanchette of Methuen, Jennifer Nale of Pelham NH, Alisha Bourne of Methuen, a nephew Liam Newnan of Charlotte NC, brother in law Ronald Pritts of Methuen, and Cousin Robin Falzone of Manchester.
A graveside service will be held in his honor on Saturday December 5, 2020 at 11:00AM in Cambridge Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations in John’s name be made to National Federation of the Blind Cambridge Chapter. John was a loyal supporter and helper at their annual fundraising walk. Please make checks payable to Cambridge NFB and mail to Dina Wood, Cambridge Savings Bank, 1374 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 or online at http://www.nfbma.org/cambridge
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