San Diego Buckeye in Memoriam: John Brockington

“We lost a great one on March 31, 2023, when John Brockington died. On April 22, hundreds of people near and far gathered in San Diego to remember and celebrate the man, the legend, and a friend to all, John Brockington.

John Brockington was a gift to everyone with the good fortune to meet him. Because, if you met him even briefly, he made to feel like you were the most important person in his life. I was one of the lucky ones who got to know John, and I was privileged to call him a friend. It is often said that the true measure of a person’s life is not in their accomplishments or successes, which John had many, but in how they treat others.

There were numerous speakers from the overflow crowd. His childhood high school teammates from New York, teammates from THE Ohio State University, teammates from the Packers and other NFL greats, John and Diane’s organ donation foundation, and everyday people he touched. Even a fan of that team up north spoke fondly about John. This speaker was rightly booed when he introduced himself by those in attendance from the Ohio State because – well, if you know, you know!

I will never forget the first time I met John Brockington; I was a police sergeant attending a community event. I looked across the room and was immediately star-struck. As a proud graduate of The Ohio State, I had to say hello. I made a beeline toward John. At first, John didn’t notice me, but then he had a look of “why this woman in a police uniform was charging me about to make a tackle?” As I got within 5 yards, I could tell John was confused, so I gave him the secret code, complete with hand gestures – John O H – to which John immediately replied I O.

We had a great conversation. Over the years, I saw John and Diane at community events, including our own Ohio State Alumni Club of San Diego. John and Diane were also always among the first to congratulate me when I was promoted in rank, and when I was promoted to Chief of Police, they couldn’t have been prouder.

We started our friendship because of our Buckeye connection, but it went much deeper than that. John often called me when he knew I was having a difficult day, usually after a press conference about a terrible crime. John would start by saying, “hey Buckeye, tough day, hang in there”. We would talk for a few moments, and then he would say this, which always made me smile. “So now let’s talk about something really important – The Game.”

As much as I loved hearing the stories from John’s teammates, one of the most heartfelt moments was when one of the speakers at John’s celebration asked those in attendance to raise their hand if they only met John after his kidney transplant, which saved his life. At least half raised their hands. The story of Diane being a match and donating her kidney to John would make an inspiring Hollywood movie. Their story is a reminder of the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of life’s most difficult challenges. All eyes were then on Diane, thanking her because, without her, many others would never have had the opportunity to know John and be touched by his love.

John had a giant heart and compassion for everyone. To have a compassionate heart is to see the world through the eyes of others. It is a tribute to John; he never met a stranger and had a gift for making people feel like they were the most important person in the world. 

Whether through his accomplishments on the football field, his advocacy for organ donation, or his countless acts of kindness toward those around him, John’s life was a shining example of what it means to live a life of significance and with purpose and meaning. Even in death, his legacy will continue to touch the lives of those who knew him and those who were touched by his story. The world is a better place for having John Brockington in it, and his legacy will continue to inspire us all to be better, kinder, and more compassionate.

It was a great honor to help pay tribute to my friend John, and although John may be gone, his memory will live on in our hearts forever.”
Shelley Zimmerman
The Ohio State University, Class of 1981
San Diego Police Chief – Retired

The Ohio State Alumni Club of San Diego mourns the loss of San Diego Buckeye John Brockington. We appreciate and will cherish his active participation in the club over the years. Read more about his life and contributions in his Obituary and in articles written by the San Diego Union Tribune, Eleven Warriors, Columbus Dispatch, and OSUAA. John was a Buckeye for Life and we will miss him here in San Diego.

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