John Hugh Camenga

1945 — 2020

Photos of John Through the Years

John Hugh Camenga died December 25, 2020 at the age of 75 in Titusville, FL. Surviving are his brothers C. Justin (Sue) Camenga of Milton, WI, and David L. Camenga of Rockland, ME; ex-wife Linda Camenga of Daytona Beach, FL; sons Andrew J. (Kristin A.) Camenga of Woodbury, PA, and Johnmark (M. Catherine) Camenga of Lost Creek, WV; daughters Faith E. (Mark R.) Green of Omaha, NE, and Grace E. (Richard A.) Crouch of Exeter, MO; 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

John was born March 16, 1945 to Kenneth A. Camenga and Evalyn R. Skaggs Camenga and grew up in Beaver Dam, WI. He graduated from Beaver Dam High School and Salem College earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He also attended Crozer Theological Seminary, then located in Upland, PA. He married Linda Rowena VanHorn on September 3, 1966 in Adams Center, NY.

For nearly 40 years he served as the pastor of Seventh Day Baptist churches in Salemville, PA (1967-71); Dodge Center, MN (1971-1973); Little Rock, AR (1973-1978); Blountville, TN (1978-1982) where he also served the Missionary Society as a traveling pastor to support other churches in the region; Shiloh, NJ (1982-1988); Daytona Beach, FL (1988-2005); and Brisbane, Australia (2005-2006). After his return from serving the church in Australia, he began to serve as a Communicator for Kennedy Space Center, a role he enjoyed for the last 12 years of his life.

Beyond local churches, he served as a volunteer for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference with multiple terms on both Faith and Order and General Council. He was elected to serve as President over the 2000 General Conference sessions. He wrote several documents through the years that were used in churches across the Conference, the most notable being lessons on Sabbath for High School students and a salvation tract. In addition to leadership at the Conference level, he provided leadership in regional church associations with significant effort in camping programs and leadership training.

At various points through the years he participated in SPEBSQSA (Barbershopers), volunteered for a local ambulance squad as an EMT, and spent several years on a public school Board of Education.

Memories and Stories

Please share your favorite memory or story of John. All submissions are moderated.

If you have a photo that you’d like to share, email it to ajcam@ajcindustries.com with “John Camenga Photo” in the subject line.

45 Comments

  1. Bruce Perens

    Every year I travel to Orlando for a conference, and I have always spent some time at KSC around it and I often got to view a launch. It was always a high point of my trip to go on the Early Space Tour guided by Mr. Camenga. I appreciated his stories about his work with the astronauts and his insight about many things around KSC and Canaveral, and his sometimes entertainigly crusty nature. It won’t be the same without him.

  2. Donald Mark Graffius

    I was an older teenager when Pastor John and Linda began pastoring the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Salemville, PA. He was my youth advisor, camp counselor/director, and instrumental in helping me grow in my faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. Most importantly, he encouraged me at various times in my life and it was a privilege to have him as a friend.

  3. Kay Wilks

    I first met John and Linda at the Seventh Day Baptist church in Daytona,Fl. My family was seeking a Sabbath keeping church and they welcomed us with open arms. I had 3 children that were not used to going to church and my son especially, then about 4 or 5, could not just sit and be content. One particular Sabbath Jonathan was running around the sanctuary while John was preaching. To my embarrassment he made his way to the podium. ON the stage! John nonchalantly picked him up and marched him down the aisle and put a very surprised child on my lap. He never missed a word of his sermon! That was my pastor!! Jonathan sat quietly that day. I worked many years at the Space Center and encouraged John to get a job there and use me for a reference(like he needed me lol) Of course he got the job and he not only enjoyed it for 12 years..thousands of people were blessed to cross his path. He shared a wealth of knowledge about the history of the space program and his humerous personality with strangers all day, turning them into acquaintances and even friends. Co workers loved him as well. John’s christianity was prevalent in the workplace, truly an asset to KSCVC. When our church needed volunteers for our building projects, he was there. When money was needed he gave. I will miss Pastor John calling me “Kiddo” and his wonderful words of encouragement in low times. Whenever I think of him I will smile remembering funny things he would say. He was the most intelligent person ever! He would of been my “phone- a -friend” person on the game show answering questions to win money. My love and prayers goes to the entire family..I love you all! REST IN PEACE PASTOR JOHN .UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN……
    Kay Wilks

  4. Cyn McMyne

    I will mss John and his presence at the KSCVC, always a smile and a joke. He was valued and will be deeply missed. A wonderful person, so rare to find a gem like John, rest easy my friend.

  5. Wendy Lawrence

    John always made the time to come over to the AE office to say “hi” and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations.

  6. Bob Springer

    Truly a loss to us all–John was a professional in all he did–but also a compassionate man with a real zest for life. He and I shared a lot of thoughts over the years, not the least of which was his love of the Lord. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
    Bob

  7. Rebecca

    I’m gonna miss you John. There was never a day that went by that I didn’t need a hug from you. You were the father figure that I needed for many years. I told everyone at work that you were my adopted father. You were always willing to bend an ear and offer advice when I needed. Until we meet again my dear friend… please look out for me and the kids.

  8. Nick Thomas

    John was one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever known. He was always ready with a good story and a warm smile. His enthusiasm and dedication for his work were exemplary and a source of pride for everyone who worked with him. Several NASA astronauts worked with John and were always impressed with his professionalism, knowledge and love of his job. He will be missed by his friends and co-workers. And I will miss him for his friendship and his grace.

  9. Jack Lousma

    John and I crossed paths on several occasions when I was at the Cape. Our conversations usually occurred during my Astronaut Encounter duties at KSCVC.

    On one occasion, John and I were assigned to amuse and inform a huge crowd assembled on the Astronaut Hall of Fame grounds on launch day for an extended period of time. John kept coming up with creative ways to keep the throng interested and patient.

    In addition to unplanned meetings while crossing the KSCVC campus, John would often come to the Astronaut Office for greetings and a conversation. As I recall, John was also a faithful minister of the gospel, and we enjoyed several opportunities to share our faith together during those private meetings.

    I will miss those opportunities in the future, and I am grateful to you for passing these memories and my condolences on to his family. John and I will meet again as noted in a favorite gospel hymn, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”!

    God Bless and Happy Landings, Proverbs 3:5 & 6

  10. Brian Duffy

    Very sorry to learn of John’s passing.
    My condolences to family and friends.

  11. Bruce Melnick

    John was always one of my favorite Communicators to work with. He was always upbeat, an encyclopedia of knowledge and had a great dry sense of humor. He will be sorely missed, not only by friends and family, but by the thousands of people he touched at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex.

  12. Tom Jones

    I always enjoyed working with John, who regularly accompanied me on “Fly With An Astronaut”…on my visits to KSC. John was a knowledgeable and articulate presence as a Communicator, and his passion for space exploration touched his audiences. John represented the commitment of so many at the Visitor’s Complex eager to share the excitement of space exploration. I was privileged to work with him. My deepest condolences to his family. He left us too soon

  13. Bart Martindale

    I have only known John for a few years, just since becoming a fellow communicator at Kennedy Space Center. During that time I have come to have immense respect for his compassion for others, his willingness to give of himself to others and his ability to see a positive side to every situation. I loved to sit, listen and learn from his many stories and laugh at his NEVER being unable to have a sharp and witty comeback to all comments. John was my mentor, colleague and friend and I will miss him so much. Godspeed John.

  14. John Creighton

    Very sorry to hear this. Christmas day especially.

    John Creighton

  15. Fred Gregory

    To John’s family: With sorrow and love.

    Fred and Annette Gregory

  16. Bob Springer

    John was a wonderful person and a great friend.
    Bob Springer

  17. Tom Jones

    I always enjoyed working with John, who regularly accompanied me on “Fly with an Astronaut” and the Grayline Tour groups during my visits to the Visitor Complex. John was a knowledgeable and articulate presence as a communicator, and his passion for space exploration touched his audiences. John represented the commitment of so many at the Visitor Complex eager to share the excitement of humanity’s journey to space. I was privileged to work with him. I am truly sorry for you, his family—John left us too soon.

    With deepest sympathy,
    Tom Jones

  18. Barbara Morgan

    Dear Linda and Family,

    We send you our deepest condolences, and we thank you for sharing John with us, over the years, at the Kennedy Space Center. We truly enjoyed John in every way and we, too, will miss him terribly. He was always fun to work with and delightful to spend time with. He was a true prince! Always kind, gentle, interested, interesting, and full of grace. Heaven has gained another angel. We wish John GodSpeed as he joins his fellow angels, and we send you our warm thoughts and prayers, and again, our endless thanks to you for sharing John with us and with the thousands and thousands of KSC visitors whose lives he touched, as well.

    In friendship and with condolences and gratitude from my husband Clay and me,
    Barbara (Morgan)

  19. Heather Muschette(Rose)

    I met Pastor John about 1990 when I moved to Miami from New York most memorable time with Pastor John was at Camp in Florida. I was the Camp nurse. A few of us would go on nature walk, I was just in awe of His knowledge of trees,shrubs ,insects,Animals Just the whole echosystem. This Man was like a walking encyclopedia. He was kind and gentle. Even with all that knowledge I didn’t feel intimidated around him His knowledge of Scriptures was captivating. That was one of my best camp experience I felt safe knowing that Pastor John and Ray was there. Today my Heart is saddened for his passing 💔 . My Prayers are with the Family. God’s Peace to you all.

  20. Mary Pat Lynch

    John was a welcomed sight to see on any bus tour. He had a great way of capturing each new audience and telling the Kennedy space center story. He treated each person he met with worth and respect. Welcomed each question like he had never heard that one before. Truly a friend to all of his colleagues. His wisdom was radiant. We were truly blessed to have him among us. He can never be replaced. I am proud to have worked with you. RIP John.

  21. Maryanne Dziki

    When we moved to Florida, I got a part-time teaching job with a team-teacher I had never met. Can you imagine a Lebanese Catholic and John working together in a Jewish school – and having a ball? We worked with middle school kids and the learning sometimes looked more like a comedy team. John had a smile that would brighten every day and make work seem like play. He was a true gentleman – and a gentle man with time for a story or just a quiet few minutes. His was truly my best welcome to private school and team teaching and our new home.

  22. Marie Ward

    I am a member of “the Oak Hill Gang”. Pastor John and Linda were the first ones to greet me the first time I went to Daytona Church. It just so happened to be a meal day. John and Linda sat right beside me and of course got to know everything about all of us that were seeking a Sabbath keeping church. There were five entire households all related looking for a church that believed as we did. They were so happy finding out that there were so many children,too. John started a Bible study in Oak Hill just for us. He was also instrumental in a leadership program that grew many pastors and leaders within the South Atlantic Association of Churches. John was a true leader and gifted in many ways. As a friend he was very special to me. As most people get to know John he plays an important part part of their lives. His upbeat, funny and witty personality always made you smile. John did his best service from the pulpit though. He was gifted in speaking and used it wisely. I will so miss John. My prayers go out to Linda and the entire family. I would type out all your names but there are just too many. You know who you are. I am so glad you all still have each other to get through this difficult time. The good thing is you all know our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ. Which is your portion. Love to you all and peace that surpasses understanding.

  23. Steve Agid

    John was always at the ready with a new story, a ever present smile and a friendly greeting. He cheered others just by being in the room. He added emotion and spirit to the tours he conducted and freely gave of his wisdom to those in need. He will be missed, but I know part of him will always be present in each of us that knew him.

  24. Billy Specht

    John was a gentleman and a talented communicator. I was fortunate to be the manager who hired him at the time. He was a pleasure to know, and will be dearly missed.

  25. Candace Schermerhorn-Gambrel

    We talked a little about Genealogy and found out that a connection with Count Van Horn and Count Lamoraal Van Egmont. Both whom along with William of Orange, protected the Protestants against Phillip II, being our family History.
    Always upbeat and full of jokes. Lots of Smiles.

  26. Debbie Kagarise

    A young man that lived two houses away from our church as a child recently got married and went to Florida on his honeymoon. They visited the Kennedy space center and went to one of Pastor John’s presentations. The story is that as a part of his presentation he would make the statement that he thought that there wasn’t a location in the United States represented by the people in the room that he had not heard of or maybe even visited. Well, the young man from Salemville raised his hand and said that he was sure that he could name a place that no one ever heard of except himself and his wife. Imagine the surprise to both Pastor John and the young man that had grown up two houses away from the Bell Seventh Day Baptist Church in Salemville SALEMVILLE!!!! Their lives in Salemville occurred approximately 25 years apart, but the story they each told after that meeting was one that was often repeated. They met after the tour was over and my nephew, his mother (my sister), and I were three persons that they both knew!
    Pastor John was very important to several young people that have gone on to serve the Lord and become leaders in our denomination. He will be missed.

  27. R. Norman Moody

    John was a friendly, kind and gentle soul who always greeted everyone he knew with the enthusiasm that showed that he really cared. He was always cheerful and had encouraging words to share with his coworkers.
    He will be dearly missed.

  28. Jenora

    John was truly a kind soul everyone was blessed to know. I often said he was like another grandfather to me and I always looked forward to our chats at work. I am so sad I was not able to see him one last time and give him a big hug.

  29. Patrick Papczynski

    It was a genuine pleasure to work with John for many years. He always knew how to brighten a room, and for almost 10 years we shared daily jokes at “Joke-o’clock”
    An absolute pleasure to get to know him, and he’s infectious positivity will be missed dearly.

  30. Carolyn Ford

    My memories of John began when he was a student at Salem College and he and my cousin Linda were a couple. My husband and I had toddler boys (ages 2&3) and a chihuahua and a beagle. John and Linda spent many evenings with us in our home enjoying our little ones while we popped pop corn by the gallon. I don’t know how we consumed so much popcorn. After John and Linda married, they adopted a rather large puppy of somewhat questionable parentage and “Wilhelmina” joined in our gatherings. Lots of laughter, lots of good times together when we were all very young. Through the years distance prevented our families from visiting often, but one thing that never changed was John’s smile, his humor, and his wit. I shall always think of him fondly. Love and prayers for all his family. ❤️🙏🏻

  31. Trudy Fitch

    What a sweet man! Always smiling, ready to tell a joke to make you smile too. I always followed his teaching in new hire orientation and I loved listening to him talk with such passion. You’ll really be missed John!!!

  32. Vickie (Ash Barnes) Perine

    He was my Sabbath School teacher when he went to Salem College, I was in love, I was a small child, I always stayed to help push chairs in, and clean up after. Then my first year at Camp Joy, in Selbysville WV he was there, I remember him scaring us to death at campfire coming out of the dark with a mop head on his head screaming. He later worked camps with my children. Always have had much love and respect for him. Prays for his family!

  33. Harry Bissinger

    I will always be honored to have had John as a friend. He touched many peoples lives over the years. At the end of his tours he would get standing ovation’s and hugs. John would end is tours by saying “let us not say goodbye however Until we meet again.” We will meet John once again in heaven.🙏🙏

  34. Jim Christensen

    John was that rare man who truly put others ahead of himself. I understood that he recognized his life as an opportunity to display the love of God for others through his actions on a daily basis. While at Kennedy Space Center I looked forward to interacting with him. He was an inspiration to me. I will miss him very much.

  35. Bruce Neale

    Over nine years John and I worked together as KSCVC communicators, he was a true blessing to all of us in that office. His smile and wit will be missed. My prayers to his family….I am sure John is guiding a new tour in his heavenly home. ❤️🙏

  36. Paul R

    John you were such a wise and friendly man. When I started my position new position at KSCVC you were helpful with me starting out. And when I left, you had such kind words. I’m so glad I got to know you!

  37. Julie Clements

    John was a true gentleman, beloved by everyone. He truly cared for others. His counsel gave me hope during dark days. Guests of his bus tours were always smiling and engaged. His wit and humor always won smiles around the lunch table too. His light will be sorely missed. RIP, John!

  38. Joan (Boyd) Patterson

    I remember Pastor John when he was a pastor at our little country church in Salemville PA. I was only 2 when he came there. I remember his smile, laugh, and friendliness more than I remember his sermons, but hey, I was very little. I’ve always thought a lot of him. He will be missed by many.

  39. Mary Thomas

    John was truly One of a Kind! He was quick to great with a welcoming smile and an encouraging word. He was so kind to everyone at KSCVC and he was loved by all of us. RIP dear John. We will All miss you!

  40. James Camenga

    My uncle was a kind and loving man. He and Linda were instrumental in my surviving the teens. They welcomed me into their family when I was struggling. They showed me by actions, the values Jesus taught. When I made mistakes, they forgave and moved along. When we disagreed, they still showed unqualified love and acceptance. I saw them help and welcome strangers. I saw them show patience when disrespected. I learned no one is completely useless; they can always be an example. I hope his legacy will endure through his families, friends and community. I will miss him dearly. I am a better man for knowing him.

  41. Brieana Morrison

    John was such a sweet soul. Always up for a conversation when we were at work. A true gentleman he was. He will be missed dearly. I am praying for his family and friends. Rest In Peace, John 💙

  42. James Camenga

    My uncle John was a kind, loving guide for me in my tween and teen years especially. He and Linda always welcomed me into their family. When I was struggling they offered a home and guidance. They offered love without judgement. When they saw opportunities guide me spiritually, they SHOWED me the values Jesus followed by actions, not just words. I saw them help strangers. When I failed, they forgave and moved along. When we disagreed, they showed love and compassion. Funny, I remember him saying no one is worthless, they can always be an example. I will miss him dearly.

  43. DORA HENRY

    Yes he was a TRULY great man. Out of every one you meet in a days time and it didn’t matter what time of the day he would have a smile on his face. He would speak to you by your name. He always ADDRESS me as MRS DORA. I will miss he very much. Yes he will be MISSED. R I. P.

  44. Brad Fick

    John was a good, decent man. I always looked forward to our dinners together for his sense of humor and stories that he loved to tell.
    My most cherished times were when I drove the bus and he did the special interest tours.
    He always would interject some sort of humor or tidbit that only I would understand.
    I sometimes laughed out loud as he was very good at it.
    A true gentleman, friend, a terrific human being, I will miss him very much.

  45. Julie Hamill

    My Thoughts and Prayers are with you 🙏💜 Mr. John was an Amazing Man loved by many. I will never forget our talks we had at work. He was very caring. RIH Mr. John

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