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John Sears Underhill

July 30, 1937 — January 22, 2024

Borrego Springs

John Sears Underhill

John (Jack) Underhill first came to Borrego Springs at the behest of Barbara and Frank Coates in the late 90's. He and his wife Marilyn fell in love with the peaceful spirit of the desert and would spend much of the last 24 years here. One of their favorite places to dry camp in their RV was Clark Dry Lake.


John was fascinated by the history of the entire town, but especially the various relics left behind at the dry lake bed. He would take visiting friends and family to see the concrete pillars left by the US Navy from their WW2 bombing range training site, and the abandoned dwellings from the University of Maryland's deep-space radio astronomy observatory.


He loved to visit Mine Wash to search for Kumeyaay morteros and pictographs, and to hike in the slot canyons. He often retold the story of César Chávez being arrested at Di Giorgio's vineyard while protesting for better pay for the farm workers.


His favorite story by far was how he met his wife of 30 years, Marilyn. In the early 90's he embarked on an ill-prepared camping adventure up the Pacific Crest Trail. Several days into the hike, while he was just west of Borrego Springs, he had a dream of a blonde woman in a pleated white dress, which turned out to be more of a vision than a dream. 

Not long after that night on the PCT, John wound up renting a room on Hill Street in Point Loma from a Nurse Educator living in a home overlooking the Pacific Ocean with her teenage kids. He recognized Marilyn as the same woman from the dream and thus began three decades of love and adventure.


John and Marilyn spent two decades snow-birding between Fridley, MN and the Roadrunner Club in Borrego. They took countless road-trips across the US, Mexico, and Canada in their Winnebego, and their love for life and each other touched everyone they met along their travels.


John was a gifted writer, publishing several books including “Marilyn and Me – A Timeless Love Story”, “Travis and Muldoon”, the children's book, “Raised By The Wind”, and countless short stories and essays. He was a philosopher and a magical thinker, and now he is a guardian angel for all who adored him.


John is survived by his beloved and faithful Chihuahua Pepe, his closest friends Barbara and Frank Coates, and his children, Cristina, Zachary, and Ben.


To order memorial trees in memory of John Sears Underhill, please visit our tree store.

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