John Megown Von Bargen, 70, passed away from lung cancer on Monday, July 4, 2016, at 2:50 a.m. at his home surrounded by his family. John was born on Sept. 25, 1945, in Ironwood, Mich., to John and Jessie Von Bargen. He is the brother of Mary Von Bargen Frederick. John’s childhood was spent in a number of states in the Midwest as his father was in the United States Forest Service. He attended and graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in Economics. After concluding his education, he traveled the United States as a comb salesman and in so doing, visited Vermont where he met and fell in love with his wife Leslie Bibens.
On Aug. 24, 1975, he and Leslie were married and started their life together. In the years to come, John and Leslie built a home together in North Springfield and had two children, John Eric Von Bargen and Julie Von Bargen Thom. They had an admirable marriage that ended after three years of John’s unwavering loving care of Leslie, who passed away of ovarian cancer July 9, 2012. In June 2016, John was married to Veronica Todorovic, and their time was cut too short by John’s illness. He is survived by Veronica; John and Emily Von Bargen; Jason and Julie Thom; and his grandchildren, John Eric Von Bargen Jr, Henry Richard Von Bargen and Evie Leslie Thom.
With a desire to work with his hands, John made the improbable decision to train himself as a silversmith. First selling his jewelry at local craft fairs, he eventually opened his first store, The Silver Mine in Killington, Vt., in 1975. These entrepreneurial learnings coupled with John’s passion for quality and his risk taking mindset led to the founding of his first Von Bargen’s jewelry store in Springfield, Vt. John gradually expanded to four store locations and developed an industry-wide respected business known for its quality and ethics.
John’s charisma, enthusiasm and engaging conversation often left those with whom he interacted with an unforgettable impression. He had incredible energy and a wild streak that revealed his love of and appreciation of life. As an addict to the New York Times, a long standing VPR supporter and a voracious reader, John could speak to any topic at length. His confidence and delivery made him a great story teller, and he never let the facts get in the way of a good story. He may have been often wrong but he was never in doubt.
John will be missed intensely by his family and by the many friends he developed throughout his life.
The funeral service for John will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 8, at the Congregational Church in Springfield, Vt. A reception will follow at the Von Bargen’s home.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in John’s honor to The Norris Cotton Cancer Center Research Fund (ph. 603-653-0745).