John Philip Notar Profile Photo
1952 John 2023

John Philip Notar

July 18, 1952 — August 25, 2023

Thornton, Colorado



JULY 18, 1952 – AUGUST 25, 2023

John Philip Notar, born July 18, 1954, and passed away August 25, 2023. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and was raised in River Grove, Illinois. Son of John and Louise (Shukitis) Notar. Survived by his sister, Lydia Notar; his wife Mary Antoinette (Toney) Ott; his in-laws Richard Leo Ott (Sally), LuAnn Ott Jilot (Wayne Frank), and Karen Elizabeth Brinckerhoff (Bill). John is also survived by many nieces, nephews and beloved cousins. 

John attended East Leyden High School in River Grove. While there he ran cross country and track. He spent a short time at St. Louis University, and then transferred to Northern Illinois University to major in Meteorology. At NIU he continued his passion for cross country and track and ran on both teams. John could race an unusual range of distances from the half mile to the 5-mile distance in cross country, and even very respectable times in the marathon.  John relished the difficult life of a distance runner.

John was very enthusiastic about Meteorology, which is not an easy major. He graduated with a B.S. in May of 1975. After finishing, he spent another semester at NIU taking up a few extra meteorology classes. During that time, he became interested in air pollution meteorology, which was a relatively new field, the Clean Air Act was being amended at that time. He learned enough on his own to pass a specialized exam and was then hired to work at the EPA doing air quality modeling and permitting applications related to meteorology. He initially worked several years at the EPA office in Chicago. In 1980, he took an opportunity to move west and transferred to the Denver EPA office. He would remain in Denver for the rest of his life.

In the early 1990’s we was offered an opportunity to transfer to the National Park Service, his dream job, to work in their division of air quality related to the National Parks. He was known nationally for his expertise and efforts to protect air quality and visibility in the National Parks. He worked on many projects that were contentious. He even worked on a case decided by the Supreme Court in 2004. John finished his long career at the National Park Service when he retired in 2022. 

John worked hard to develop the supporting information and arguments needed to protect the air quality and dark skies of the National Parks and Monuments. He took joy in protecting areas such as Rocky Mountain Nation Park, Joshua Tree Monument, Great Smokies, and the Alaskan Parks. 

John was an avid hiker and could often be found in the Colorado Mountains on his days off. He loved to fish but catching fish was a different story. He loved to drive through the mountains and just visit the many areas of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.  He loved to show visitors Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas. He loved to travel to Europe and was planning to go on many more adventures in the near future.

John was an accomplished amateur astronomer. He built his own telescope at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, which involved a long laborious process of grinding by hand a piece of glass into a parabolic shape, that ultimately became an 8-inch mirror. He also acquired several other telescopes through the years. His passion was photographing solar eclipses. John travelled around the country and internationally for the chance to observe and photograph total eclipses. John was already making plans to see the next total eclipse in the Midwest in 2024.

Memorial Mass will be held at Holy Ghost Catholic Church on Friday October 27, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., followed by a reception.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to National Parks Conservation Association:

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