A 75-minute vigil service was held Thursday night at the couple's church, Mt. Tabor United Methodist in East Canton.
EAST CANTON Rogell "Gene" John's smile and jokes. His love of cooking, fine food and wine. His consoling embrace of a family member when she lost a grandparent.
The beautiful alto voice of his wife, Roberta "Bobbi" John, who sang with Gene in the church choir. Her skills as a seamstress. The hours she spent making quilts for Aultman Hospital patients reaching the end of their lives.
During a 75-minute vigil service Thursday night at the couple's church, Mt. Tabor United Methodist, family members and friends shared what they loved about the Johns and expressed their anguish and disbelief that their lives ended in tragedy.
The couple's son found them dead Monday in their Lake Township home. The Stark County Sheriff's office said they were shot, and deputies have charged their house-sitter, George C. Brinkman, with murder. He's also facing aggravated murder charges and is accused of being responsible in the killings of a North Royalton woman and her two adult daughters around Saturday.
"In this case, we'll never understand why," Pastor Tim Monteith said at the start of the vigil. "The truth is there is no answer why."
He later said that the couple had joined the church four or five years ago, not only taking part in the choir but serving as members of the church's finance committee and helping to organize the annual Thanksgiving dinner. Gene John, who was a former circulation manager at The Canton Repository and the Massillon Independent, helped the church place ads in the paper.
Pictures of the couple were shown on a screen during the vigil.
One man who said he went to school with Gene John, 71, recalled how he was the master of ceremonies during their 50th year reunion for East Canton High School in 2013. He said Gene John kept them laughing and he believed he was in heaven laughing and keeping the angels laughing.
Bobbi John's distraught sister Susan Elsass said she was in shock.
"I just expect her to come out of a room, say, 'Hey Sue, want a glass of wine?" Elsass said. "Thank you for coming here and loving our sister as much as you do."
One woman who said she was a cousin of Gene John recalled after her grandfather died, Gene John saw her from across the street, ran up and hugged her.
Alan Pincombe, who was Bobbi John's first husband with whom he had two sons, fought off tears while paying tribute. He complimented Gene John for taking care of his boys. He recalled the last time he saw his ex-wife she attended a service for his late wife and gave him a big hug, saying he would get through this.
"I knew that when they told me Bobbi and Gene were going to get married .... I had no doubt that he could come in and take care of my sons. And I just wanted you to know how much .... I'm sorry ... How much they meant to me."
Bobbi John's oldest sister, Nancy McKinney, said, "They loved everybody. They would do anything for anybody. They were just two kind souls. ... she probably had 25 years (of life) left with us and now we don't have them. ... It's just breaking my heart!"
Clark Kandel Jr., a member of the church, said, "We're trying to figure this out, and we can't. We're trying to make sense out of nonsense, and it doesn't add up. We're trying to figure out why anyone would do this."
Quilts that Bobbi John made were displayed at the front of the church. Monteith said they would be given to children in need.
Near the end of the vigil, the attendees lit each other's candles.
The church's choir director, Jillian Corbi, recalled quilting with Bobbi John and how for Easter service, they convinced her to sing a solo part for the song, "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates."
Corbi then in tribute to the Johns sang the song by Jenn Bostic "Jealous of the Angels."
One of the lyrics of the song is, "It's not my place to question. Only God knows why. I'm just jealous of the angels. Around the throne tonight."
The couple's supporters then had a silent prayer and closed with the hymn "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."
Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or email@example.com. Twitter: @rwangREP
Correction: An earlier version of this article was incorrect about the song Bobbi John sang a solo part for in an Easter service. She sang a solo part for "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates." Mount Tabor United Methodist Church's choir director, Jillian Corbi, sang at the vigil Jenn Bostic's "Jealous of the Angels," whose lyrics include, "It's not my place to question. Only God knows why. I'm just jealous of the angels. Around the throne tonight."