If a book were to be written about the life of the late John Alfred Masterson, it would be released in several editions. Masterson lived a multifaceted story through to his passing on Friday, Jan. 12, at the age of 82.

Masterson is survived by four children and six grandchildren, as well as his wife, Judy, who will be hosting a celebration of his life this Friday, Jan. 9, 4-9 p.m. at the Saticoy Country Club in Somis.

John and Judy met in 1961 at the grand opening of Masterson Motors, formerly located at 3111 E. Main St. in Ventura. Judy had visited with a friend to enter a contest for a trip to Las Vegas, and eventually left with a husband of 56 years. Judy says that John was full of life and a “super fun guy” to be with.

“Our first date was attending a Los Angeles Angels game,” said Judy. “We went down in a brand-new [Volkswagen] Karmann Ghia which just really impressed the heck out of me. He was wearing a 10-gallon hat and we had box seats. He just impressed me very much.”

From left: Julia Martin, Janna, John, Mark, Judy, and Jeff Masterson, in Portland, Oregon, circa 1980.

Masterson was no stranger to cars, not only selling Volkswagens, but racing a Ford special as well under the nickname “Bat” Masterson. Off the track, John led a life of community service that still echoes through the city.

John was awarded Ventura Citizen of the Year in 1974, elected trustee of the Ventura Unified School District from 1974 to 1977, port commissioner from 1978 to 1982, and founder and president of the Ventura East Rotary. Enough for a normal man, perhaps, but John continued as chairman and founding member of the BuenaVenturans, and was involved in local school sports as president of the Ventura College Booster Club. An avid writer, John was a member of the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, and penned a column on theater dubbed “Masterson on Stage” for the Santa Paula Times, appearing onstage himself in over 25 productions.

This was followed by 18 years as a trustee of Community Memorial Hospital; and in 1992, John became vice president of community relations until his retirement at the age of 81. John was well-known for his impeccable fashion, as well as for checking in on patients.

Judy and John “Santa Claus” Masterson.

“He always wore a suit and tie to work, and one of his jobs was to visit patients,” said Judy. “He’d go in to see how they were doing, if they were happy with the hospital and what more they could do, and that was just one of the little things he did.”

John was the face of fundraising for the hospital, as well as the face of Santa Claus — an annual tradition he picked up to entertain children of hospital employees.

In the end, John left a legacy as big as his personality; for John, everything was “terrific.”
“Even if he was down and not feeling well, he’d smile and say, terrific,” said Judy.

The John Masterson celebration of life will be held at the Saticoy Country Club, 4450 Clubhouse Drive, Somis, 4-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9.