RIP Dr John Mislow: 3rd January 1970 – 11th June 2009
I knew John Mislow for only 8 months or so, when I was an exchange student at Princeton Day School, for his Senior Year in 1988. I had left the UK in the middle of a gap year, having just failed to get into Oxford again. I had recently split up with my first serious girlfriend (OK, she split up with me), and I was hoping that I could make a fresh start.
On the very first morning, John was at the heart of a group who welcomed me with open arms, not knowing anything about me except I was from England. I had never been at the centre of anything social at school, but he didn’t care for that. “Put the Zep on!” was the cry as we piled into Jamie’s car and fishtailed around the icy carpark, blasting into a snowdrift to a soundtrack of Robert Plant’s screams, John Bonham’s pounding drums and Jimmy Page’s electrifying riffs. This wasn’t like ‘A’ Levels.
Over the next few months, we shared some moments that come back to me clearly, even 21 years later. Midnight screenings of Rocky Horror, skipping classes to get ice cream from Thomas Sweet, multifarious parties and escapades. And yet while he certainly knew how to tear it up, he was also eloquent in a way few high school students can be. His words in my Yearbook resonate with me every time I revisit them.
This is our graduation day at PDS in June 1988.
I fell out of contact with John only a few years after I left PDS, although through Facebook I have recently re-engaged with several classmates. They broke the news recently that he was killed, along with his long-time climbing partner, in a fall on Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak. He was a neurosurgeon, husband and father of two. His memorial site gives a better view of the man he had become, from the teenager I knew.
It’s clear John was hugely loved, admired and respected. I wish all his family and friends my deepest condolences. Part of me selfishly hopes I can look forward to such admiration. But that’s up to me now. I guess I have to earn it.