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Name:  Karyl Bahr Krieger

Location:  Montevideo, Uruguay, as missionary kids

Approximate Date:  Approx 1960, off and on, until now.



Uruguay (around 1960?): He was older than I, so looked to him as one of the "big kids" I held in awe. He played Swiss bells with his brother Jerry. They would also sing. "I want a girl, just like the girl that married dear old dad. . ." He was head of our kids club where we took turns getting to play with plastic building blocks similar to Legos. Maryland (around late 60s, early 70s): He was in the White Coats. I heard him at youth group one day, talking about commitment to Christ. He discussed being willing to die for Jesus, like the martyrs. But then he challenged us with the idea that helped orient my life. He asked us if we were equally, or even more, willing to LIVE for Jesus. That was more than 50 years ago and I'm still trying to do just that. New Jersey (around 1988): My husband followed him as pastor of the Hackettstown SDA church when John left to teach at Garden State Academy. We lived in the parsonage his family vacated. It felt kinda funny relating to him and Harryette (sp?) more as colleagues than "big kid, little kid."

 Incidentally, his parents lived just up the street from us (the Bahrs) for a while, on Aspen Ave in Takoma Park, MD. His mom was my favorite story-writer.





Name:  Jeanice Warden-Washington

Location:  Glendale Adventist Academy 

Approximate Date:  ??



I have so many fond memories of Pastor Aitken from teaching Bible classes at GAA, grading papers as his TA, all the awesome snacks, and the excellent drama productions! His way of teaching still sticks with me and the life lessons he taught remain guideposts on this earthly journey called life – as we navigate our temporary home. Keeping his entire family in prayer. His legacy lives on!





Location:  Glendale Adventist Academy

Approximate Date:  1993-1994



Pastor John Aitken, Sr. was my religion and drama teacher during my senior year at Glendale Adventist Academy (GAA) from 1993 to 1994, and he became my closest mentor that school year. He helped show me a talent and creative side to myself which I never realized I had until I became his student. He taught me that it is OK to be different and to not be afraid of pursuing our lifelong dreams, goals and ambitions. He made me realize the depth of Christ’s love for us as God’s children when he directed our spiritual skit “The Last Song” when I was a member of his drama group “Gideon’s Band.” Although I would have loved to have been a cast member of his production of “The Day Jesus Died” during his first year of teaching at GAA, I was very honored to have been a cast member of his “Phantom of the Opera” production which we performed the following year for two weekend nights in a row at the GAA Auditorium in May 1994, just shortly before I had graduated together with my class the following month, thus it was a fitting way to help conclude my memorable life chapter at GAA. Pastor Aitken helped instill in me a profound appreciation for the dramatic arts and how we could use it to serve God and spread His message of love, hope and compassion. 

Even after graduating from GAA in 1994, in the succeeding years I visited him in his old classroom on campus a few times just to update him on the professional and social developments of my life, as well as to get the occasional words of wisdom and advice which he always so greatly excelled at in giving me when it came to navigating the various challenges in this world we live in. I have come a long way since our time together in high school. Within the past three decades, I have graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and mass media from Andrews University, joined the Philippine diplomatic service and assigned as a diplomatic attache at the Philippine Consulate General in New York, earned my Masters degree in International Migration and Refugee Law and Policy from the University of Galway in Ireland, and am now currently posted as a diplomatic attache at the Philippine Embassy in Ankara, Turkiye (Turkey). Throughout all the accomplishments and experiences which I’ve had over these past years, I have never forgotten the teachings and mentorship of Pastor John Aitken, Sr. I will miss him dearly, but I have the faith that he is resting in God’s care for now, until that Great Morning when Christ returns to unite all of us His Children to live eternally in his everlasting kingdom. Thank you for everything you have done for me and for all of us Pastor Aitken. God bless you eternally.




Name:  Carissa Totalca

Location:  Adventist Health Glendale

Approximate Date:  Christmas Day, 2023



For Xmas,my husband and I always wanted to do something special for the community like feeding the homeless or visiting the sick! My husband suggested to visit the North Valley Nursing Center to bring food for the Employees and at the same time visit Pastor John at the facility! The Nurse said Room 7A, he was not there, Room 21A, not there either, then a another nurse send us to 33A! We walked the whole facility looking for him,so finally, the Charge Nurse took us to the office where she looked him up in their computer! According to their record,he was transported to Adventist Health Glendale! So off we go and tracked him down at CITU! At the parking lot, we happened to run across Mrs. Aitkin and she told us what happened to Pastor Aitkin! We were happy to know that visitors are allowed to visit! As soon as he saw us, I will never forget how happy he was to see us! We brought him his favorite sweets and our famous Xmas dish (cabbage rolls)! Oh, u should see his face lit up and told us ” how do u know my favorites!” While we were talking, his nurse came to check up on him and she is a friend of mine! I told his nurse “please take good care of Pastor John!” And she promised she will! We had a good visit and he was joking that he wants to go check out all the hospitals in Los Angeles!

I told Pastor John that I put in 45 years of service at Glendale Adventist, so I know he is in good hands! He said “Wow, u beat me, I only put in 20 years of teaching at the Academy!” And we all laughed!



Name:  Jolene Roosenberg

Location:  I’ve know him my whole life. He is my uncle.

Approximate Date:  1969-2023



I’m extremely lucky to have an uncle like Uncle John. It was always a special time whenever I was around him because his larger-than-life presence had an infectious excitement that made every interaction a special one. I can’t watch football without thinking of him because he’d get the whole family out to play it during the holidays. I can’t watch a movie without thinking of him because he knew more about movies than anyone I’ve ever known. He practiced what he preached and loved unconditionally, like Jesus. I totally plan on being that niece of his who hangs around him in heaven, because even there, things will be a little more exciting around Uncle John ❤️. 



Name:  Cherrie Flores

Location:  Van Nuys SDA Church and Sylmar SDA Church 

Approximate Date:  2010



Pastor John Aitken inspiration as a minister was not of a career but of a calling. He lived a life that brought honor and glory to the name God the Father.

No mortal words can express my gratitude to our God the Father for allowing my journey as a pilgrim to meet Pastor Aitken at a crossroad. One notable event was when we lost our English cocker spaniel and this brought grief to my family specially to our 10 year old daughter. One sabbath morning during a sabbath school at Pastor Aitken’s museum our daughter asked if she will see her dog again in heaven. Pastor Aitken replied yes we would see them again, otherwise it wouldn’t be called heaven. This inspired my daughter to seek and love Jesus more and learn about the treasure of Jesus.


Name:  Rosemarie Santos

Location:  Sylmar Church

Approximate Date:  Since 2019?



He is such a great speaker and story teller. I love his sermons and his music. I love listening when he plays the bells and sing before his sermons. I remember his hands when he gets excited about a subject. 

I will surely miss him. I wanted to ask him about what he thinks of the Israel Palestine issue but he got sick.


Name:  Ashley Prosper

Location:  Glendale Adventist Academy

Approximate Date:  1999-2003



I think about Pastor Aitken quite often. During my senior year of high school I had a hard time deciding which college to attend. Initially thrilled by my acceptances, my joy was later muted by “paralysis of choice.” As a 17 year old, it felt like the biggest decision I’d ever make!
Pastor Aitken gently told me that “No choice is the best choice when you make it. Every day after you make a choice, your actions determine if it will BECOME the best choice.” I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders and I made a decision that I committed to making the best choice for me. I’ve reminded myself of this wisdom at so many other points in my life (when making decisions much harder than which college to attend!) and have comforted others with them, too. Pastor Aitken probably had no idea but those words left a great impression on me and I’m so thankful that he took the time to share them with me.




Name:  Josephine Halvorsen

Location:  Glendale Adventist Academy

Approximate Date:  2000-2004



Gideon Players changed my life. I say that with 100% honesty. Pastor Aitken saw what I could never see in myself and turned a shy, self conscious girl into someone that was confident enough to go after her passions without fear of others opinions. He was encouraging and saw talent and he was genuinely proud of my accomplishments. And he didn’t just do that for me. He was an archeologist in more ways than one. He saw the diamond in the rough in people, in places, things, and situations. I will forever be grateful to him. Until we see each other again Pastor A, I’ll look for the Indy hat!

My heartfelt condolences to the family. May the Lord give you comfort and peace at this time. Know he was loved and appreciated by many students and his influence changed more than myself. He has had a ripple effect on so many.


Name:  Jennifer Williams

Location:  Glendale Adventist Academy

Approximate Date:  1998-present



It is with a heavy heart and immeasurable gratitude that I offer my tribute to an exceptional individual who not only served as my educator, but also enriched my life with the transformative power of art and expression.

Pastor John Aitken was my high school religion and drama instructor during my time at Glendale Adventist Academy. Despite the distinct nature of these two classes, Pastor Aitken seamlessly integrated Biblical teachings with the world of drama – illustrating how the stage could serve as a sacred space to share the love of God with others.

Pastor Aitken’s religion courses were unlike any I had ever experienced before, and since. He brought the characters in the Bible to life, encouraging us to empathize with their experiences. And he always asked us to think critically about the Bible and make it applicable to our own lives for only then would it become hidden in our hearts.

In the afternoons, the amphitheater (where drama class was held) became a sanctuary for me. Through the theatrical productions held there, we conveyed powerful messages of compassion, empathy, and faith, showcasing the interconnectedness of art and spirituality.

Pastor Aitken’s infectious passion for storytelling and extraordinary dedication to nurturing his students’ talents created an environment where I found solace and inspiration. Within Pastor Aitken’s classrooms, I could escape, learn, and discover my own strengths. His unwavering belief in my potential helped me navigate challenging times. And I was honored when he asked me to sing a duet with him at his own father’s funeral, grateful to be able to be there for him like he was always there for us.

Just weeks ago, I called Pastor Aitken upon learning of his hospitalization. His last gifts to me were words of encouragement, “You’re such a good mother, Jennifer. And I’m proud of the work you’re doing for your community and family. I’m proud of you.” Pastor Aitken always knew what to say.

As tears flow, I’ll sum it up: I am profoundly grateful for Pastor Aitken, and I pray that we carry forward the lessons of love, resilience, and the power of creativity that he exemplified for us.

With deepest condolences,
Jennifer N. Williams (formerly Jennifer Rugless)



Name:  Jay Aitken

Location:  Throughout my life!🤗❤️

Approximate Date:  1966-2023 (57+ years)



Uncle John was one of the main reasons I looked forward to family reunions and get-togethers!
When I was young he introduced Sesame Street to me during a Christmas vacation to Montana- and the way he made them come alive through puppets like Bert and Ernie was absolutely magical!
During my teenage years I could always count on watching NFL football and playing some of our own great games of football outside!
Seeing a film with my uncle was such a joyful experience! I learned so much from him about the many aspects of film making! He always reminded me of how to appreciate the many nuances like the musical score and cinematography!
We ended up sharing the love of great cinema and NFL football and I consider our discussions to be priceless!
During one visit he was shocked that I hadn’t seen any Hitchcock films and kindly put on an Alfred Hitchcock film festival for me! I was thrilled and honored!
His encouragement, smiles and ready laugh was inspiring!
I was very lucky and blessed to have him as my uncle! 🙏🤗❤️



Name: Enjoli Filemu

Location: Glendale Adventist Academy- Religion & Drama Teacher

Approximate Date: 1999-2003



Pastor Aitken had a profound impact in my life. Because of his own interests and passions, he told stories and could incorporate music, the arts, the Bible, and theater all together in something truly poetic. He really shaped the way I could see using my passions in my work or other areas of life. It seemed impossible but somehow he made it work. I remember he introduced me to Planet of the Apes, which I grew to get kind of obsessed about. I was always excited when he referenced movies that I enjoyed as well. I was so privileged to not only be in Drama under his direction, but also the Gideon’s Players traveling group. I built so many memories and really felt such an amazing way to connect with God through acting and music. He had a unique voice and vision in how he shared stories from the Bible and how he depicted some classic plays and musicals on stage. His ability to write and direct inspired me to find ways after graduating to continue to act and even create some skits of my own. When I teach my classes, I find myself using references in the way he would, to connect with my students. His influence was so pivotal in my life and I wish so much that could have let him know. 


Name: Aileen Velazquez

Location: GAA Sophomore Religion

Approximate Date: 1992-1996



Pastor Aitken brought humor and realness to not only religion class, but everyday life at GAA. He had such a positive approach to everything. I’ll always remember his suspenders he liked to pull on when he’d make a funny comment and his Birkenstocks he “wouldn’t be wearing”. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge I did becoming an adult without his senior project, but as rigorous of a project it was, he was still able to make it fun! There are so many memories, but something that’s a constant is he’s always smiling.

I am so sad to hear that Pastor Aitken passed away. My condolences go out to his family. His presence will definitely be missed by everyone he’s encountered throughout his life! Be at peace and with God!


Name: Branden Stoltz

Location: When he held Buried Blueprints at the Simi Valley church! I helped him put together his flier for the evangelistic series and was excited he would share about Jesus and prophecy through Indiana Jones and other film epics.

Approximate Date: 2010 to the present



Pastor Aitken had a heart for people and for Jesus and for people to know Jesus. He wanted to share about Him any and every way he could – and he did. His knowledge and personality combined into a contagious passion for things eternal and other-worldly. Pastor Aitken’s work’s impact will continue in the lives of those he ministered to.


Name: Julia O’Carey

Location: He is my uncle.

Approximate Date: All my life since 1972



Uncle John was a very special part of my life and even though I didn’t see him that often, I’m going to miss him. He made an impact on my life even from my earliest years. I was very impressed with how he came over to hot, humid Thailand and helped us when I was a kid and my parents were working in the refugee camps. He brought Theater of the Universe over there and it brought to life the life of Jesus and Great controversy, creation and more. It really impressed the refugees and it impressed me. What I remember about Uncle John is that he was so loving and fun, creative and full of life. Every time I was around him I always learned so much, whether it be about dinosaur bones or the Grace of God. I remember fun times soaking in the hot tub and enjoying meals together. I can’t wait to see him again in heaven someday. My heart and prayers are with you Aunt Harryette, John, Anna, JD and James!

I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to the memorial. I’m speaking in Austria this weekend. I love you all!


Name: LeeAnne Means

Location: Campion Academy

Approximate Date: 1990-2023



From the moment I walked into Pastor Aitken’s classroom and I heard him say “Well hello there”, I knew we were going to get along. Over time we became more like family. I had never met someone who got me. The way he let everyone just be themselves no judgement. Always kind always caring always there if you needed guidance. I am so glad I got to witness the suspender snapping, tie wiggling and all the laughter. One of my favorite memories is the two of us riding in that Fiero (hope there is a picture in the slide show). This truly was a great man, who will be incredibly missed.


Name: Frances Flores

Location: Van Nuys & Sylmar church

Approximate Date: 2010-2024



I always viewed him as a grandfather of sorts. He was very patient with all of us kids throughout our lives, and loved how spunky we were, even if it was a bit much noise.

When it was my first time singing Jacob’s Ladder, he accompanied me on the piano. I got scared from the microphone and ran, and my mom had to sing in my place… “Let the little children come to me,” he’d always quote from the Bible. I hope that stays true until this day.

I wish I could ask him so much more than I did when I was young and at a loss for words every time he spoke of great concepts that caught my attention even if I had heard them so often over my small life.

Now that my chance is gone, it’s as if I have so much more questions than I ever did before. Things about religion, history, the future—what next?


Name: Timothy McRae

Location: GAA

Approximate Date: 2001-2005



Pastor Aitken’s religion class was always exciting. I’ll always remember his drama classes and doing performances with the Gideon Players.


Name: Leonor Lastima

Location: At Van Nuys Church

Approximate Date: 2010



My family love Pastor John. He dedicated and baptized our two kids. Our kids adored and respected him. Pastor Aitken inspired our kids to love learning the Bible and learn a lot from him. Pastor Aitken was great at promoting Christian education, with that we are thankful for him to help us decide to send our kids to our church school. His teachings will live on in our hearts forever. We will see him in that blessed morning.

We will miss him tremendously at our church Sylmar, especially when I pass by his museum on my way to the children’s classroom and also in our pulpit every sabbath. Teary eyed everytime we sing, “I feel Jesus” because it was him who introduced that song for congregational prayer.

Name: Loree (Dunn) Fronsoe

Location: GAA

Approximate Date: Since 1997



Everyone has that one teacher that made a pivotal mark on their lives. Pastor Aitken was that teacher for me. When I was in elementary school, Pastor Aitken approached me to play Little Cosette for the production of Les Misérables that his Drama class was going to put on. I happily accepted and that opened my eyes and heart to the world of theatre. I continued to assist backstage (and sometimes on) throughout the remainder of my time at GAE & GAA. Pastor Aitken was a consistent mentor of mine and I learned so much from him. It is because of Pastor Aitken that I pursued a degree in Film & Television & Theatre Production and have thrived in the field since. He forevermore with be my drama teacher that changed my life. And I am forever grateful.

Name: Gretel Gutierrez

Location: Vannuys SDA Church & Sylmar SDA Church

Approximate Date: Since 2012 up to the present



Pastor Aitken Sr. was a shepherd in the truest sense. He guided us with wisdom, cared for us with a tender heart, and led us with a humble spirit. His sermons were not merely speeches; they were heart-to-heart conversations that resonated deeply within our souls. Through his teachings, he didn’t just impart knowledge; he nurtured our faith, challenged us to grow, and inspired us to live out the Gospel in our daily lives.

He is one of the best Pastor we ever had. He’s very approachable and helpful. He has left a very good impression on my husband, to the point of asking him to give the eulogy of his mother’s memorial service who is not an Adventist.
There are no words to the legacy he has left on our church. His shining personality will live on in our hearts forever.

Name: Jared Zeismer

Location: Glendale Adventist Academy

Approximate Date: 1995 to present



My favorite memories of pastor Aitken were the many times I was able to sit in on his bible classes being my Dad Speedee (Jim Zeismer)
were both the best bible teachers at GAA but I will truly miss him. Sending my deepest condolences to the entire family from the Zeismer family

Name: Sergio Quadros

Location: Van Nuys SDA church 

Approximate Date: 2009



I was born and raised in the SDA church, I didn’t know why or what for. But when I met the best bible teacher in the summer of 2009 at the Van Nuys church. Pr. Aitken opened my mind and eyes to the big picture of scripture. I ate up the Bible. I loved and missed greatly his Wednesday night meetings. He not only taught me to teach, but also the art of curiosity. I had the privilege of receiving the first edition of his audiobooks. I loved him as my best teacher and pastor.

Name: Jason and Leanne Claros

Location: Van Nuys SDA Church

Approximate Date: 2010-2023



Pastor Aitken was a very kind and loving pastor that really showed us what it takes to be a man of God. We were blessed by his sermons and personal sessions to help build our foundation as a married couple. We took marriage counseling with Pastor Aitken, and we continue to use his advice to this day. Leanne and I were very fortunate to have Pastor Aitken wed us in 2022, and he was so happy for us during this time that he called us “his couple”. We will forever be grateful for his ministry that brought so much joy, love, and memories to all those that he came across. We will always remember Pastor Aitken and cannot wait to see him someday in heaven. We’ll continue to pray for Mrs. Aitken and his family during this time. – Jason & Leanne

Name: Gisele Lemos

Location: Sylmar Church

Approximate Date: 2021



He was a wealth of knowledge! His series on world history, followed by his insightful teachings on Daniel and Revelation, were truly amazing. Thank you for blessing us with your wisdom!

Name: Bradford Newton

Location: Simi Valley Adventist Church

Approximate Date: 1995-1999



John taught a Sabbath School class that was always the most highly attended in our church. This was because of his engaging content and innovative way to look at topics familiar to us yet found new ways to help the class see new facets of truth. He was always encouraging to me personally as his pastor during those years. He was a blessing to God’s work and inspiring to those who knew him. I am thankful to have known him and share the work of ministry with such a stellar man. You will be missed John. Soon you will see Jesus and hear his voice say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

Name: Nathan Davis

Location: GAA Religion Class

Approximate Date: 1994-1998



Pastor Aitken was a wonderful man.

I remember as a freshman coming into GAA, I had Religion 1 first thing in the morning. Pastor Aitken’s class was next to Zeismer’s, and there was always music cranking next door. It always made me wonder what kind of interesting stuff was happening over there!

Once I was in his class, it all became clear. He had a love of music, movies and drama. He used these media in his teaching, which was a welcome change of pace from the more traditional approach to class work.

My favorite memory of Pastor Aitken was when we had Enrichment days. He took a group of us all around in a van over those few days, showing us the real life locations for many iconic movies. He then showed us his extensive collection of movie memorabilia, and he and his wife made us a home-cooked Spaghetti.

Pastor Aitken was a rare, dynamic personality. He practiced what he preached, and lived for the Lord, and his positive example was felt deeply by many, as his loss will be.

The world could use more John Aitkens!

Name: Roberto Claros

Location: Van Nuys SDA

Approximate Date: From 2016 up to 2023



I love him and will miss him so much . Pastor John is the one who inspire my daughter to know and love Jesus . Pastor John Sr is the one of the opicaiting pay or to my daughter wedding at Sylmar SDA AUGUST 2023.

Pastor John Sr is always there to support the children and this church member.

Name: David Guzman

Location: Van Nuys & Sylmar English Church

Approximate Date: 2008



Pastor John Dudley Aitken 2nd is convincingly an angel in realtime he was able to cater to one’s particular need he told me 3 aspects one, keep loving them. Two, enjoy your family three, Lord-what will you have me do. One of his favorite hymn was number 633 you look it up and sing this in your home/church. He said. I will see you at the southeast gate and meet you at the tree of life. Maybe then we will sing hymn number 633.

Name: Roxanne Jarred

Location: Sylmar, CA

Approximate Date: 2019



My husband Tom & I were hired by Pastor Aitken to manage the SDA church in Sylmar. My husband & I loved working together. I loved working & digging up the gardens. I even had war battles with the moles digging & eating up the beautiful flowers. Well, we started to see signs of mice inside the church & fellowship hall. On Fridays, Tom would meet with Pastor on updates on the church grounds. I joined in one morning & said, “Pastor, I hate to tell you this but there’s a mouse in the church.” Pastor was busy looking at papers with his reading glasses at work. After I told him about our new problem., he lifts up his head slowly & looked at me through his specs & slowly said, “We, have, a…. church mouse?” I told him that was true & I was going to battle with the mice now. But I believe he told Tom to notify the Orkin guy. I told Tom, “didn’t Pastor Aitken remind you of a movie when the character finds out there is a mouse in the church?” Tom said, “Yes,” with a smile.

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