IN MEMORIAM PLSI Board Member, John Foxell, May 25, 1944 - December 4, 2016
John Foxell had a knack for finding where the action was and putting himself in the middle of it. His colorful stories could seem unbelievable, but he always managed to back them up.
John was an ardent preservationist, and long-time PLSI board member. John's pride and joy was his home, the Abraham L. Merrill House, an 1848 saltbox, landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 2011. A modest white when John purchased it, he painted the home flamboyant orange with black trim, so no one could pass by without a double take.
When asked what he did for a living he spoke of "26 jobs over 43 years in 13 states and Canada," Returning to Staten Island in 1981, John worked for NYC Child Protective Services, and spent 14 years at Family Court in Manhattan, Through his work with Judge Judy, John received an award in 2001 from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as one of NYC's top employees.
After he retired in 2005, he wrote scores of poems, short stories, and essays, concurrently taking writing classes, and teaching a poetry class for the Center for Lifetime Learning at Staten Island's Bernikow JCC. John's writing is published in two anthologies produced by his writing group, the Nobelists. Also a visual artist, John used found objects to create fantastical collage and sculpture compilations.
Despite his dislike for TV, John gained notoriety in the past few years as a recurring guest on the Discovery Science Channel show "Oddities," and its spinoff, "Odd Folks' Homes."
He is the subject of a 2016 documentary, "Beware of God, "and a featured actor in a student film, "Vera," by Gena Mimozo. He and his home were recognized with a 2010 feature article in the New York Times. When he wasn't creating, John was often traveling. He visited Mexico, Panama, Europe, every state except Hawaii, and virtually every island in the Caribbean. He hated flying, but loved cruising and car trips. Although he hadn't driven since 1989. John referred to himself as "a package to be delivered," and often mentioned how happy he was to have created a satisfying "third act" for his life. The Preservation League was privileged to have been part of John's "third act."