We were deeply saddened to learn that a shining star of VISIONS veteran leaders passed away last week. John “Jack” Fields was a leader on our Alaska program the summer of 2013. Jack was a natural educator, a superb carpenter, and beloved by his students, fellow leaders, community members, and everyone at VISIONS who had the opportunity to know him.

One of the things that Jack became known for at VISIONS was “whiteboard sessions” that he led with kids the evening before most work days. He would describe the steps of the construction projects taking place the next day, go over blueprints, and let participants have a hand in design. One of the accomplishments that summer with Jack was building a steam bath for a local elder (pictured below; steam baths are a traditional part of life for Athabasca people of Alaska). Most important, though, was his natural ability to lead and to connect with people in genuine ways.

While we tried to have Jack return for other summers, other adventures, travels, teaching, and work filled his schedule. Most recently he was living in Jackson Hole, WY. Jack died in a backcountry ski accident— he was living a full life and one that he loved, but his early departure is hard, nonetheless. We remember Jack fondly, and send love to his family and friends.

Jack in Alaska—the back left of the photo with hands on his knees.

VISIONS in The New York Times