A little over two weeks past the mark of his 65th birthday, John E. Mayfield passed away on September 29, 2017, after a courageous and hard-fought battle with both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cancer. Despite taking a destructive toll on his body, the illnesses never once diminished his passionate spirit, weakened his determined faith, or dulled his natural ability to shine.
John was an extraordinary man who devoted his life to his country, to his community, and to the countless causes he held dear to his heart. And although he was most highly recognized for his involvement with a variety of foundations and his distinguished role within Kiwanis, the compassion, philanthropy, and humanitarianism that ran through his veins undoubtedly spanned the globe.
After coming to Cheatham County in 1985 from Knoxville, John almost immediately began making a positive local impact with his unwavering commitment to Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, Imagination Library, Kiwanis, 4-H, and, of course, the Community Foundation. He was also heavily involved with the Red Cross and the American Legion. John served on seemingly endless boards and committees, and he even began his own foundation, the John E. Mayfield Charitable Foundation, in 1996 that enabled him to support a plethora of causes.
The most awe-inspiring fact, however, is that over the years, John gave out nearly 250 scholarships and set up close to 20 different endowed scholarships- primarily to benefit Cheatham County students.
Most recently, though, he drew the most pride from being elected as the Kiwanis Children’s Fund president during the organization’s annual International Convention held in Paris, France on July 14, 2017. On Tuesday, September 26, he was pinned by former president, Don Canaday, who led Mayfield to Kiwanis ten years ago.
“It was one of the greatest honors of my life,” reflected John, humbled by the distinct honor and display of appreciation and gratitude the attendees showed for him during the ceremony.
Joining the Kiwanis Club of Cheatham County in 2007 as a second-generation Kiwanian, John took great pride in his significant history within the organization. He also served as the charter club president, distinguished lieutenant governor of Division 14 in the Kentucky-Tennessee District of Kiwanis International, and had also been trustee, treasurer, and president-elect of the Children’s Fund.
A proud member of the Founder’s Circle and a Lead Gift Donor to The Eliminate Project, John had also distinguished himself as chairman of the Lead and Major Gifts Committee, and was a Bo Shafer Fellow and Ted Osborne Fellow of the Kentucky-Tennessee District.
Through his involvement in Kiwanis, John had hoped to help eliminate maternal neonatal Tetanus in the world, and aimed to one day help the Kiwanis Children's Fund become self-sustaining.
A mentor, an ambassador, and a virtuous servant, John was a hero in every sense of the word. But he was far from an unsung one. His list of accolades, awards, certificates, namesakes, scholarships, and foundations is a lengthy one that he continued to build upon even in his final days.
Some of his favorite bits of recognition included: The John E Mayfield Swinging Bridge at Camp Sycamore Hills, being a member of the 2012 White House Champions of Change by U.S. President Barack Obama for his advocacy and support of The Eliminate Project, having a library named after him at Nashville State Community College, and being in their Hall of Fame.
John graduated from Baylor School in Chattanooga in 1970, attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Cleveland State community College, and served in the US Army Reserves for six years in the 335th Engineering Detachment.
For 27 years, John owned Mayfield’s Book Store in Ashland City. Owning a bookstore had always been a dream of his, and through enthusiastically coupling two of his passions, he was able to support his foundation through the proceeds of book sales. Over the years, innumerable books have been donated to local schools and charities because of John’s generosity and drive to help others.
His time, a dwindling treasure, was what he wanted to give the world the most, though. Regularly described as someone who never met a stranger, John did not reserve his kindness for the needy alone. He put forth immense effort into his relationships with family and friends, his business partners, colleagues, and with anyone he met, really.
A true model of generosity and integrity, John helped shape the intellect and spirituality of all who knew him. He taught people how to be selfless, he forced people to see the good in giving, and he challenged them with his natural-given gifts that allowed him to enlighten.
One of John’s fondest childhood memories was the day he hit two home runs during a baseball game when he was just 12-years-old. He vividly remembered the strong sense of pride, excitement, and the unmatchable rush of being part of a team that rallied together to pull off the win.
He lived the greater part of his adult life with that same sense of passion for the game. And, throughout his final days, he was surrounded by his carefully-selected, all-star “team” of likeminded individuals and organizations that will continue to fight for the causes he believed so strongly in.
In the wake of his passing, many will mourn. His legacy, however, will certainly not fade- only grow stronger in the hearts and through the actions of all those he has touched.