Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 2:28 pm | Fair 77º


Dos Pueblos Mourns Loss of Longtime Biology Teacher

John Torkington, who died Friday from complications of a spinal injury, is remembered for his optimism and dedication

Friends and colleagues on Monday remembered the optimism and dedication of longtime Dos Pueblos High School biology teacher John Torkington, who died Friday at age 53.

Torkington taught biology and AP biology classes at the school for about 15 years. He had been hospitalized since Aug. 8 for complications of a spinal injury that made him a paraplegic for much of his adult life, Dos Pueblos Principal Mark Swanitz said.

“What was really remarkable about him was how positive and optimistic he was, given the challenges in his life to get though a typical day,” Swanitz said. “He was an inspiration to a lot of staff members. He’d make our own challenges seem insignificant.”

Torkington could be found outside at lunchtime enjoying the Santa Barbara weather and chatting to students passing by.

“He was a valuable, important part of the school structure and history,” Swanitz said. “He’d brighten your day.”

An informal celebration of “Mr. T’s” life at DPHS will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, with food, music and mingling in the courtyard outside his classroom.

His family, who will be in attendance, have set up a scholarship fund in his name for an outstanding science student. They have requested that donations be made to the fund in lieu of flowers. Contributions can be sent to The Torkington Revocable Trust, 6446 East Trailridge Circle, Unit 31, Mesa, AZ 85215.

Students were informed of the loss Monday morning, and Swanitz told each of Torkington’s classes personally, accompanied by a school counselor. A substitute teacher has been filling in for Torkington this school year, but many of the AP biology students previously had Torkington as a teacher, Swanitz said.

School counselors are available for students who need a place to talk, mourn or celebrate Torkington’s life.

The school will play music during Wednesday’s lunch break and dedicate a bench at his favorite lunch spot to further honor the dedicated teacher.

“He was a big fan of ‘70s rock-‘n’-roll, so the leadership class will play it during lunch to celebrate him,” Swanitz said.

There is also a banner on campus that students can sign. It will be given to Torkington’s family.

The DPNews Facebook group urges those who knew him to send comments, ideas and video messages to be put into a tribute.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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