I would see him walking. Or quietly sitting. Or writing. Always alone. He never asked me for money. I would see him resting in Forest Service Park, in the sun. I would smile. He would nod. He was calm, and gentle, never seeming to want, or need. When I encountered him one day at a local cafe, I bought him a cup of coffee. No chatting, really. Just a smile, and a nod.
I was waiting in Ketchum’s Limelight one late afternoon to catch a bus back to Hailey. It was cold so I was sitting by the fireplace. I looked up and saw him sitting across the street on a bench, in the sun. I thought, you know, the next time I see him I going to talk with him and ask him about his life…and life. I thought I would ask him if I could record his answers on my iPhone and share with the community. I had so many questions. I never saw him again.
He was found lying on the side of state Highway 75.
He died on September 11th.
I didn’t know his name.
Reporter Tony Evans wrote this for the Idaho Mountain Express.
Ketchum Resident John Pool Dies
As an Army sergeant, he earned two military medals
Ketchum resident John Denton Pool passed away on Sept. 11 of sepsis after being life-flighted to Twin Falls. He was 73.
Pool came to the valley in the mid-1980s and lived at times in garages and unused parts of buildings, or outside, friends said. Later on, he found housing. Since 2002, the Ketchum Korral and the Sun Valley Board of Realtors had been pitching in to cover his $400 rent at the Ketchum Korral cabins, after Pool’s former place of shelter was demolished.
“We kind of adopted him into the place,” said Ketchum Korral General Manager Ryan Sullivan. “The Advocates have a place for women and children but the male population here doesn’t get the same amenities.”
Pool was a man of mystery to some, gathering mental notes on hundreds of slips of paper at cafés in Ketchum and wearing the same clothes year in and year out. Some acquaintances have said he lived with a mental illness. He sometimes worked tending gardens.
Pool was also honorably discharged from the Army in 1983 as a sergeant with a medal of commendation. He served in the 1st Battalion of the 34th Artillery detachment from 1982 to 1983.
Ketchum Police Chief David Kassner said Pool was found lying on the side of state Highway 75 in Ketchum recently by officers, where he would often be seen carrying a cardboard sign that read “Need Work.”
“He was a gentle soul,” Kassner said.
The Higher Ground nonprofit veterans program is networking to get Pool a military funeral.
“We know he served his country well and was recognized for his service on duty,” said Higher Ground Director of Operations Rich Cardillo.