In Loving Memory of John Cloud


John Randal Cloud

January 22, 1949 – May 17, 2021
“Well, we didn’t see it coming” Our beloved John Cloud peacefully entered God’s Heavenly Kingdom at 6:40 p.m., Monday, May 17, 2021. He was at home, where he wanted to be when the end came.
Many – maybe most—of his friends did not know that he had been battling a rare cancer of the esophagus since summer 2019. While his team of the very best doctors and researchers in the world at M.D. Anderson tried at first to heal then, at last, to contain the cancer, in the end, the aggressive disease overcame John’s earthly body. However, it did not overcome his sunny personality and the Light from within.
John Randal Cloud was born on January 22, 1949, at St. Joseph’s Maternity Hospital in Houston to Earl James and Marie Homer Cloud. “Johnny,” as he was known to family even as an adult, grew up in the house still standing in Bellaire, near what is now Episcopal High School. He graduated from Bellaire High School (he would often say he had graduated from high school in a “small town”) and went on to study at the University of Houston.
As a youngster, Johnny was both resourceful and quite mischievous. For example, he would gather all the discarded Christmas trees in the neighborhood and build a fortress to defend with his friends. When his prankish nature would surface, while hiding behind a neighbor’s bushes, he would throw out an old hub cap when a car came by, and yell “hub cap, hub cap” much to the dismay of the driver. He also used to torment his sister and her friends by throwing harmless grass snakes, which he loved to collect, off the roof. “John was just the cool-ist guy,” his sister’s friend said. “He never did anything bad; he just wanted to have fun.” His mother would often find a jar of insects – one time newly hatched spiders—in his room. As an adult, it would seem he was always doing something he wasn’t supposed to – at meetings, airports, restaurants, wherever– much to the embarrassment of his wife Mary.
“He was always up for an adventure, or an experiment, or a new gadget, or just some plain mischief. He was just fun to be around,” a friend recalls.
John’s dad Earl instilled in his son a love of learning and an inquisitive nature by paying him ten cents a page to read the encyclopedia and by experimenting in the back yard with chemistry sets, while John learned the periodic table. His dad also shared a love of monster movies with his son, which John enjoyed all his adult life. As a young teen, he would take the bus from Bellaire to downtown Houston, take in a monster movie, buy a monster magazine/comic book, and devour a chili dog at James Coney Island. John’s love for chili dogs from James Coney Island continued through his adult life. He often shared “a dog and a chili pie” with his work colleagues, even into his retirement. As late as a month before his death, he had lunch at JCI with a former co-worker. (Note: In honor of John and his love for James Coney Island, his former work colleagues have arranged for JCI to serve at the reception following the service.)
John’s childhood memories also included going to Galveston with his parents every weekend to play on the beach (he described himself as a “water baby”) and then to take the ferry across to Bolivar to buy fresh crabmeat at Milt’s (now long-gone by one of the hurricanes.) In his adult life, John extended his love for the ocean by becoming a certified scuba diver and exploring the reefs in the Caribbean, and by going on multiple cruises with Mary among the Islands.
As a teen, John worked various jobs to pay for gas, especially for his 1950’s model Nash Ambassador, in which he would pile his friends in the back to go to the drive-in movies. He loved to tell tales of working at a small pharmacy in Bellaire at which he would make toasted cheese sandwiches for customers and where he developed his love for cheeseburgers and vanilla phosphates. John would also describe another teenage job as “being in the oil business,” i.e. pumping gas at a Bellaire gas station. His most memorable job in high school, though, was throwing a paper route for the Houston Post at 4:00 in the morning, then coming home in time to get ready for school. He and his life-long friend Ed Schauseil often would recount getting up at “dark thirty” to throw their respective routes and later, to go back and collect from their customers.
In 1968 John married his high school sweetheart Pat Hicks. His daughter Paula was born in 1969 when John was working as a computer operator at Exxon. Pat and John were together for about six years before they divorced.
Understanding and communicating with computers was something John could do – and did up until the time of his death – with excellence “non pareil.” He knew several layers of computer languages, some of which are now archaic. A friend remembers taking a basic language programming class and having a homework assignment to complete a task in less than 10 lines of code. After experiencing frustration, she asked John for some insight about the assignment, and he sat down and wrote a program that used only three lines of code. “The instructor must have thought he had a genius student in his class,” she recalls. “I had to admit to him that I did not really do this on my own but had a ‘genius programmer’s help to figure it out.”
On St. Patrick’s Day 1990, John attended a St. Patrick’s Festival at the now long-gone Bavarian Gardens in the Heights. The Festival was where John met Mary, who was also attending with a friend. His response to “Where did ya’ll meet,” however, was “Mary picked me up at a bar.” Soon after their meeting, John invited Mary for dinner – and after that they became inseparable. In March 1992, Mary joined Trinity Church in a joint re-dedication of their confirmations. They were married at Trinity Church by The Reverend Stephen Bancroft on September 26, 1992.
John had a life-long love for wanting to know how things worked. His inquisitiveness would not let him rest until he “figured it out” and comprehended the issue. Consequently, he was knowledgeable about many subjects and was able to discuss many different topics with people from a variety of backgrounds. For example, he attended almost all the scientific conferences for which his wife Mary coordinated the logistics. He would enjoy engaging scientific researchers with doctoral degrees in such esoteric areas as planetary dust, extinction of the dinosaurs, planetary formation, etc. He especially loved to engage the students who presented their research via poster presentation and would ask them questions to help them be more articulate in presenting their research. He usually sought those students who did not have a lot of people showing interest in their posters.
After owning his own computer business for several years, John went to work as a contractor for Houston Lighting and Power in 1994. In 1998 he became a full-time employee working with human resources, payroll, and employee benefits. He liked to say that he had the “same office” but worked for different companies, as the name of his employer changed many times through various mergers and company changes. (The location of his office changed many times, as well.) It was also during this period that John “expanded the Casual Friday” dress code to include Hawaiian shirts, of which he had many beautiful patterns. (Most of his shirts did come from Hawaii, where he attended some of the conferences Mary oversaw.) The colorful Hawaiian shirts perfectly fit John’s outgoing personality, and he was closely identified with them, up until the time of his death.

After John’s retirement from NRG in 2014, he took piano lessons for several years from Houston music store icon Don Holcombe, now deceased; learning to play the piano was something he had always wanted to do. He also renewed his interest in growing and caring for orchids, another area of expertise he possessed.

The part of being retired that John truly loved was becoming a volunteer at the Houston Zoo. Up until the Covid-19 pandemic, John was faithfully at his shift, either at the carnivores or at the sea lions. He trained as a storyteller and loved to tell small children (as well as adults) about the animals they were observing. Upon his passing, the Zoo paid the following tribute to John:
Known for his beautiful, colorful Hawaiian shirts that he wore to every Zoo social, John brought his sunny personality to all of his shifts. He was a fixture in the carnivore and sea lion areas, helping staff and interpreting to guests with his sense of humor. John was always in motion – laughing and talking with friends. In all the volunteer events we had, he was always active and engaging – just like his interactions with guests.
John’s love for Trinity Church began when his parents and grandmother brought him to be baptized and where he later was confirmed. The annual Easter photos displayed in Fellowship Hall show him as a blur at age 3 while not being able to sit still in one of the little chairs in front, and as an older youngster trying to beat the camera by running from one end to the other. He also learned his love for serving at the altar as an acolyte under the eagle eye of then acolyte Master Ralph Davies.
John served Trinity Church in many capacities from being an usher/greeter to welcome everyone who came through the front door, to serving on future priest’s discernment committees, to being on new rector search committees, to being a member of more than one Vestry. John was a member of the current Vestry at the time of his death. (According to one fellow vestryperson, John always had a knack for breaking the ice or lightening the mood when things starting getting too serious or heated. He always had a positive, upbeat spirit. He often said, that for a Vestry to be truly effective, it must always have food served at the meeting.)
Most of all, John loved working with young children as Acolyte Master. He had a gift for teaching them what it meant to serve at the altar on Sunday, to be in awe of God’s presence. He took his role seriously, without ever being too serious. He gave the younger children the autonomy to grow and learn, acting more as a guide on the side, than a sage on the stage, gently encouraging them during service, giving them their cues.
John had an unrelenting love for good liturgy, for all the services of the Church. Most recently he participated in all the Holy Week services (most of which he helped to stream online) including The Watch for the Blessed Sacrament, held on Maundy Thursday/Good Friday. He even matched his shirts to the liturgical color of the service.
John Cloud was a good man, a faithful and loving husband, and a loyal friend. He will always be in our hearts.

A Celebration of John’s Life will be Saturday, May 29 at 2:00 pm at Trinity with Bishop Doyle officiating. A reception will follow the service. If you would like to attend the service Pre-registration is requested. We ask attendees to wear a mask and to practice social distancing. The service will also be live-streamed.

The link to watch the service can be found Here
To preregister for the service, please