LASLEY, John Ross, AKA “Big Bad John,” long-time resident of Princeton, NJ, passed away peacefully on June 30, 2023 at his home surrounded by his family. John had a long, happy, adventurous and eventful life. His nickname BBJ was a result of his lifelong journey filled with endless humor and pranks amidst his deep love for his friends and family. He was a motorcyclist, a pilot, a skier, a scuba diver and an avid reader of the New York Times. John had endless stories about his many adventures, some true.
Here are the facts: John was born in New Haven, CT on April 15, 1927, the first child of Ross Art Lasley and Harriet May Kingsley Lasley. During his childhood, he lived in Boston, New York City, Westport, CT, and Pelham, NY. He attended Pelham Memorial High School before moving with his family to a Flemington, NJ farm where John became proficient at milking the cows. That was a job he performed each morning before taking the bus to Somerville High School. After two years, he transferred to Valley Forge Military Academy, graduating in 1945. John then joined the Navy and served at Great Lakes and Corpus Christie, TX. Following his discharge from the Navy, he enrolled at Yale University, leaving after two years to join Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a roustabout. According to John, his parents were delighted that he left Yale to join a circus. Such was the sarcasm of Big Bad John.
After his circus experience, he worked as a management consultant for his father's company, R.A. Lasley Inc., in the Chrysler Building in NYC. There, John met Katharine Parker, of Onancock, Virginia who was smitten because “his tie was askew.” They married and had four children: Janet, Martha, David, and Tom. During the early fifties, John commuted to NYC, returning home every night to build his house on Cherry Valley Road in Princeton. He and Katharine worked well past dusk many nights. John and Katharine lived in the completed house for most of the 59 years of their marriage. It was where their children grew up and where BBJ passed away.
In 1956 John went to work for Opinion Research Corporation in Princeton and retired as senior vice-president 29 years later. At that point he opened an office in Princeton for the Wirthlin Group. Finally, in 1994 John really retired.
Through the years John was very active in the community, serving as executive director of the Princeton All-Star Fishing Team, Chairman of the Board of Nassau Savings and Loan, Nassau Club President, Rotary Club president, executive director of the Jaycee Football Classic, a director of the Medical Center at Princeton, Chairman of the Princeton Borough Transportation Committee, member of Elmo’s Eels, and much more. The Princeton Chamber of Commerce once named him Man of the Year. John enjoyed fishing, gardening, Dixieland jazz, fireworks, cooking, and traveling. He was known for his humor, storytelling, pranks, generosity, kindness, charisma, open-mindedness, sensitivity, optimism, and his ability to organize and get things done. His fun-loving nature led many to describe him as an overgrown teenager.
After Katharine died, John (at the age of 84!) went on match.com. That led to meeting Dottie Batho whom he married in 2013. They found much happiness and love together, and enjoyed entertaining and traveling, taking over 20 trips and cruises, along with many other adventures.
John outlived his first wife Katharine, his daughter Janet, his brothers, Bob and Jerry, and his sister-in-law, Anna. He is survived by his wife Dottie; his children Martha, David, and Tom (Meg); his son-in-law Marc (Sue); his stepchildren Emily, Peter and John; his grandchildren Jake, Cory (Mike), Woody (Brittany), Caylin (Steve), Charlie, Q, Ever, Cage, and Tru; his great-grandchildren Edward, Archer, Serenity and Ivy; his step-grandchildren Christina, Victoria, Amanda, and Lilly; his nieces and nephews Johnny, Sue, Roberta, Kate, Dan, Barbara, Susan, Alison, Beth, Ross; his sisters-in- law Joan, Judy, and Elizabeth; his brother-in-law John; and many great friends.
Family and friends will tell you that the facts are only part of BBJ’s story. It was his engaging personality, amazing adventures and deep relationships that tell the rest of the story. He had many famous and hilarious one-liners. If you want to share a story about John, please join us for a celebration of John’s life, date to be determined.
If you wish to make a contribution in memory of John, please contribute to NAMI Mercer in Hamilton, NJ, www.namimercer.org, an organization which meant a great deal to John and his first wife Katharine.
The Lasley family is in the care of the Aloia Funeral Home/Attentive Cremation Service, 180 Harrison Avenue, Garfield, New Jersey 07026 (973-340-7077). Condolences visit www.aloiafuneral.com