John's Story

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John Patrick Tiernan, 67, of Candler, N.C., formerly of Danville, died peacefully May 27, 2017, at the John F. Keever Solace Center in Asheville, N.C., surrounded by his beloved wife of 26 years, Claire, and other family members.
John was born Dec. 11, 1949, in New Hampton, Iowa, to Bernard and Agnes (Reilly) Tiernan. He was raised in Wisconsin and Illinois and graduated from Schlarman High School in Danville, Ill. He then attended and graduated from Christian Bothers College in Memphis, Tenn., with a degree in civil engineering. He did graduate work at Georgia institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga., during his bridge design career.
John spent 34 years with the Georgia Department of Transportation in Atlanta. He retired in 2005 as assistant state bridge engineer. During his time with the state, he worked on many of the interstate projects around Atlanta and Georgia. One former supervisor stated John was probably the best structural engineer in Georgia.
The year before he retired, he had the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch in the Torch Relay Athens 2004 in Atlanta.
Upon retiring from the GDOT, he and Claire moved to the mountains of North Carolina he so loved. He worked part-time as a consulting engineer with Arcadis in Atlanta while continuing volunteer work and pursuing numerous hobbies. They included calligraphy, wood carving, drawing, painting, cooking and quilting among many other interests.
He loved taking courses at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. John shared his talents teaching calligraphy classes at the Folk School and through the continuing education program at Young Harris College. Also, while in Hayesville, he volunteered and served two years as president of the board with the Friends of the Moss Memorial Library.
After moving to Asheville, John continued his volunteer work at North Carolina Arboretum, one of his favorite places. In fact, he conducted his last trail guide tour there three weeks before his death. He also volunteered with the South Buncombe Friends of the Library.
In addition to Claire, John is survived by his sister, Mary (Bill) Etchison of Bradenton, Fla., and brothers Mike (Val) of O'Fallon, Ill., Jim (Pat) of Benton, Ky., BJ of Derry, Ireland, Tom (Kathy) of Danville, Ill., and Kevin (Aimee) of Troy Ill., and many nieces and nephews. He also is survived by his in-laws, Margaret and Walter Sellers, and Claire's sister, Mary (David) Doyle.
The family sincerely thanks all the wonderful and caring friends who were so supportive, kind and helpful to both John and Claire during his illness. Additionally, the family extends a grateful thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff at the SECU Cancer Center, St. Joseph Hospital, and the John F. Keever Solace Center who were so attentive and caring.
A celebration of John's life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be made in John's name to North Carolina Arboretum Society at: www.ncarboretum.org or by phone: (828) 665-2492 (Contact: Winnie Hough).
Published on June 2, 2017
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