John V. Kane

John Vincent Kane, 64, Concord, North Carolina, formerly of Dunmore, passed away unexpectedly Friday April 30, 2021 in the Regional Hospital of Scranton after being stricken ill. His wife is Kim Canton Kane, DDS.

Born in Scranton, John was the son of the late Frank T. Kane, DDS, and Elizabeth O’Hara Kane. He was a graduate of The Scranton Preparatory School, held a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from The University of Scranton and a master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from The National Intelligence University, Bethesda MD. Prior to his retirement, John was an international security and protection consultant.

John was a bright, charming, kind and loving man with a fascinating career and a giant heart. As the fifth child in a family of eight, John stood out as a unique character, most notably with his bright red curly hair, sky blue eyes, mischievous smile, and wry wit. Having grown up with certain advantages, John forged his own path in life, breaking away from expectations and eventually joining a profession that often put his life on the line in the service of his country and in the protection of others from across the globe. 

As a young man, John was an assistant manager of his high school basketball team and later a high school basketball referee. During college in Scranton, he worked part-time for a men’s clothing store and for WEZX Radio, Rock 107, where he was a disc jockey and a news reporter, covering accidents and crimes and providing him with his first insights into law enforcement. 

John was at heart a strategist and a gifted observer of human behavior, so when he passed the challenging exam for The United States Secret Service, he began to put those gifts into practice, starting along a path that would draw on his talents and give him a chance to broaden his horizons, eventually beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.

As a uniformed officer of The Secret Service, John was assigned to The White House and to Plains, Georgia, providing protection for President Jimmy Carter and his family. Two years later, he returned to Scranton to work for WEZX again, this time as a full-time account executive. But he knew law enforcement was where he belonged, so he worked evenings part-time as a Reserve Officer for the Scranton Police Department, patrolling neighborhoods on foot and working with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies to develop policing strategies in high-crime areas. During this period, John gained a glimpse of his future in high profile protection when he was assigned by Scranton Police to provide security for the Hollywood production of “That Championship Season,” protecting actors Bruce Dern, Martin Sheehan, Paul Sorvino and Stacey Keach.

In 1985, John returned to federal law enforcement, joining the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Domestic Security, as a Special Agent under Secretary of State George Shultz. In addition to providing protection for Secretary Shultz, John was responsible for the protection of visiting dignitaries to the U.S., including, among others, Prince Charles, Queen Noor of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, and Poland President Lech Walesa whose leadership was instrumental in the eventual breakup of the Soviet Union.

In 1989, John transferred to the U.S. Treasury Department as a Treasury Agent assigned to Los Angeles. In addition to investigating Visa and passport fraud, John worked with the Los Angeles Police Department and U.S. Customs in crime interdiction focused on the Port of Los Angeles where international trade intermixed with high stakes crime, including smuggling, human trafficking and illegal drugs. 

John returned to The State Department in 1996 as a Senior Special Agent in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). Overseas, the DS is the senior law enforcement representative of the U.S. Government. As the DS Regional Security Officer and Security Attache in foreign nations, John was responsible for the protection of the U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and all employees, both American and foriegn nationals, who were working for the U.S. Government in those nations. His assignments included Kenya, Sudan, Pakistan, Turks and Caicos, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and The Bahamas. He also provided protection details for several traveling Secretaries of State. In the course of his work, John traveled to five continents and nearly 60 nations.

On August 7, 1998, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was attacked and destroyed in a bombing that set the course for international terrorism for the coming decades. Following the attack, John worked around the clock for days, recovering victims, investigating the attack, and defending the facility from further hostilities. Later that year, he was given the State Department’s Award for Heroism by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for actions during and after the attack on the embassy. The following year, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno gave John an additional American Heroism Award on behalf of The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

While serving in Jamaica in 2001, John met his future wife, Kim Canton. They were married in Jamaica in July 2003 in a multi-day event that marked the beginning of the most joyful period of John’s life. This sometimes tough guy, John was transformed and all of his inner goodness emerged without reserve. He was unabashedly devoted to Kim, the love of his life.

In 2006, John retired from The State Department and began security consulting in The Bahamas and other Caribbean nations which were frequent points of entry for terrorists to the U.S. John taught and trained police officers in those U.S.-friendly nations in counter-terrorism tactics, counter-intelligence operations and other protection practices. During those years, John further developed his personal connection with Jamaica and The Bahamas, enjoying a deep and abiding affinity for the people and their culture, and establishing warm, enduring relationships with many who embraced him as one of their own. 

In 2012, John stepped away from the often gratifying rewards but intense demands of his work, and retired in full. He and Kim spent the next few years together in North Carolina, with John relaxing and enjoying new relationships with local friends and business associates. Kim recalls these years in a way that makes one feel that John finally got a chance to exhale. Then, in 2017, he responded to continued requests for his expertise by taking on security projects part-time. He was involved in several of these projects when he passed away.

In his line of work, John encountered the best and the worst of human nature, from gifted and inspiring world leaders to people who defied the term “humanity.” Through it all, John maintained his own sense of himself, serious in his work but still the curious, even mischievous young kid he once was; a keen protector of the rule of law yet generous, kind and sensitive toward those in trouble, those who were less privileged.

In his later years, John bore the long-term burden of physical injuries incurred in the line of duty, as well as the challenge of maintaining a balanced perspective after witnessing horrors committed against his colleagues and other innocent people. For all of his prodigious responsibilities and complexities, John remained, extraordinarily, a regular guy. He loved history, government, world politics, golf, and college basketball; Broadway musicals and thought-provoking TV productions, especially medical dramas, science fiction and British TV. He cooked a mean spaghetti sauce, was a fascinating conversationalist, a dear friend and brother, and of course, he loved to travel, especially with Kim. Despite his experience in the mystique and intrigue of international law enforcement, John was at the same time a defender of the underdog. He believed in liberal democracy, and held a code of ethics steeped in fairness and social justice–a balanced viewpoint unfortunately rare in an increasingly polarized society.

But John was at his best when he was helping others, especially young people. Over the years, he was quietly generous with his time and resources to countless young people and friends throughout the world. He was particularly attentive to and supportive of his many nieces and nephews as they struggled through the vagaries of their teen years and their twenties, providing a consistent private sounding board for them and a generous, guiding hand.

John Kane left us too soon, but his turn in the journey of life was remarkable and unforgettable. His motto to the end was “No Regrets”–a concept he had to learn over time in his difficult line of work. What’s the point of regrets, he would say. Do the best you can, learn from your and others’ mistakes, regroup, and move forward. Most of all, do no harm.

In addition to his beloved wife, Kim, John is survived by his siblings Mary Kane, RN, Moosic Lakes; Frank Kane and his wife Laila, Moosic Lakes; Jean Kilcullen, RN, and her husband Peter, Dunmore; Betsy Hill and her husband John, Moosic Lakes; Bill Kane and his wife Pam, Clarks Summit; Kate Kane and her partner Leonora Dascole, Lindenhurst, NY; and Celia Kane, RN, and her husband Kevin Corcoran, DO, Binghamton, NY; mother-in-law, Rita Canton; sister-in-law, Hillary and niece, Chantel; Kane family nieces and nephews: Patrick Sweeney, Jeffrey Sweeney and Frank Sweeney; Conor Kilcullen, Celia Kilcullen Ward, AuD, and Kat Kilcullen; Tim Kane, Julia Kane, AuD, and Molly Kane; Drew Kane and Ryan Kane; Anna Worobey, Elizabeth Worobey and Jack Worobey; grand nephews and nieces Colin, Reghan and Ava Sweeney; Betty and Frank Sweeney; Kane Sweeney; and Kieran Ward; cousins, and scores of friends and former colleagues throughout the world.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in John’s honor to The Carter Center and The Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Saturday, July 31, 2021, a commemorative service and celebration of John Kane’s life was held at The Country Club of Scranton. The recording of that event is available for viewing at this link: https://youtu.be/UJKWRq9HtGU

10 Comments

  1. Betty Canton

    I came to know John through my niece Kim, his wife. I was fortunate to attend their very delightful wedding in Jamaica and visited with them a few times, in Concorde. He was a great conversationalist. I always appreciated his dedication to Kim and how his smile lit up when he told me of some surprise he had in store for her. I will miss our telephone conversations when we tried to solve all the world’s problems. Rest well John, you will be missed

  2. Michelle Chatani

    I was so so sad and shocked to hear of John’s passing he was really lovely. I am so happy I got the chance to reconnect with him in October 2018 in Florida at our family reunion. To my cousin Kim I have no words and my heart is broken for you … I send my love to you Kim and all who loved John. As we say in Jamaica walk good John until we meet again ♥️🙏🏼

  3. Pamela Broomfield (nee Nelson)

    To Kim, Rita and the family,

    Please accept my sincere condolences for your sad and untimely loss.

  4. Joseph N. Demko

    My condolences on the passing of John. We knew each other well in high school and college. Although we lost touch over the years, each time we reconnected it was as if we had seen one another daily for many years. His sense of humor and good nature will be missed

  5. Matthew Haggerty

    Kim, Mary, Frank, Jean, Betsy, Bill, Kate, Celia, and the entire Kane Family,

    John was a constant presence in our lives when we were kids and I was happy to become one of his friends as I grew up. Each time I would see him in town over the past ten years or so, we always caught up and had a nice visit when I would see him in town or golfing. Terrific tribute to John’s life in yesterday’s paper. I have thought of John and all of you so often over the past few weeks, especially yesterday. These times make it hard to get together and express our thoughts and prayers. I hope to be able to get that
    chance in late July. Until then, please know that you guys are all in Chrissy and my prayers. John was the best!

    Matthew and Chrissy

  6. Hillary Canton

    People come into your life for a reason. John was my brother-in-law and soon became my brother. John and Kim were the definition of a true love story and he made her so happy. No other person other than my parents and my sister have been more supportive and I will miss him and our various talks. Walk good brother dear… Psalm 34:18. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

  7. Margie Oliver

    I’m so glad I could watch the beautiful memorial service for John. I’m so very sad about his passing. He was a great man. I’m blessed to have known him. Kim: my thoughts & prayers are with you. May John serve as a precious memory.

  8. brenda cuthbert

    Sincere condolences from the Cuthbert Family in Jamaica
    Fred and Brenda Cuthbert
    Thalia and Dwight Batchelor with Samantha and Matthew
    David and Sacha Cuthbert
    We remember John with love and pray that his soul rests in peace
    Kimmy know you are always in our hearts

  9. Alan Buntz

    Just watched the beautiful tribute to John’s too short life. I got to know John while he was a salesperson for WEZX radio. He would be quick to visit the accounting department to see the status of his next commission check. It was funny to hear about his fashion sense in Jamaica because he was always dressed so well when I saw him at work. I was always impressed and surprised with his career change to dangerous government security work because he was such a kind and gentle soul. Condolences to his sister Betsy who I worked with over the years at the Times and to the rest of the family.

  10. joan fitzpatrick and mary howley

    We wanted to be there yesterday at CCS but watched it together. It was outstanding and felt very warm and welcoming. We were there in spirit. We both cherish the fact that we felt a part of the Kane family!

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