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1952 John 2023

John Michael Mendoza

October 19, 1952 — August 17, 2023

John Michael Mendoza

October 19, 1952 - August 17, 2023

John Mendoza, of Yucaipa, CA, passed away Thursday, August 17, 2023, at Redlands Community Hospital. He was surrounded by all who loved and cherished him during his last days. He is finally able to rest peacefully.

John was born in California, to Albert and Josephine Mendoza, on October 19,1952. The eighth of ten children, he always said he was supposed to be the baby, then came two more siblings. He was an adventurous young boy and spent his childhood with the kids in the Texonia neighborhood (Randy, BB, David, Norman, Roland, and many others) out at all hours, exploring the orange groves surrounding his Redlands boyhood home, just being boys, riding bikes, sleeping under the stars, cementing friendships that have lasted decades.

Johnny tried earning money selling Christmas cards to buy a gas lawn mower on credit to earn even more money mowing lawns and meticulously edging the neighbors yards by hand. He later secured an early morning paper route. Then he bought himself a bike, and gifts for his mother with his earnings. Johnny bought his first car, a 1955 Mercury from his sister Vera at age 16.

After graduating from Redlands High School in 1971, John joined the US Army and was assigned to the prestigious Defense Language Institute at Fort Ord in Monterey, CA. John loved cruising and camping up and down the California coast on his motorcycle when he was on leave. He developed a passion for languages early on, studying French and dabbling in Japanese. At Fort Ord, he was assigned to learn and translate Czech and Russian. In 1973 while in the Army as a Russian linguist, he met Monica Suttmiller of Mason, Ohio. They married in 1975 in Ohio. They were both assigned to a top secret station underground doing secret translations during The Cold War in Germany. This was one of the most exhilarating times of John’s life. He loved the people and sights surrounding their Augsburg dwelling. Neighbors became fast friends he cherished forever.

Upon returning to the states John’s children arrived, Jennifer first and four years later Jason, making their family complete. They lived in Redlands near John’s parents then moved to Yucaipa for the last 30 years of his life. He was surrounded by so many thoughtful, kind friends, and loved being close to his siblings (Vera, Charlie, Albert, Carmen, Margie, Carol, Tommy, Anita and Ted). John also loved his bonus family in Ohio. Ann (92) and Dennis (91) Suttmiller and their other 8 kids (Dennis, Marcia, Betty Jo, Annette, Brian, Susan, Sarah, and JonJay) welcomed him into their home every summer vacation, special occasion or holiday possible. He had fun trips there, taking the kids to the pond, family reunions, Kings Island, road trips and just spending family time with his in-laws, always known as Mom and Dad to him.

After the Army John fed his passion for education, and started classes at San Bernardino Valley College. After trying substitute teaching and graduating from the University of Redlands with his Bachelor’s Degree. He made a career of teaching Adult ESL with the Redlands Unified School District. He thoroughly enjoyed educating his international students and loved learning from them on home visits to their countries like in Japan and Argentina. They shared their cultures and food- which he especially enjoyed! His passion for education and travel, took him to many countries like the Philippines and Australia. He then continued his teaching at CalPoly Pomona and earned a Masters in Education Administration.

While John was a motivated learner, he was also fond of going on long-distance solo road trips (Northern CA, Death Valley, Arizona); and stopping in on his siblings if only to take a break before jumping on the road again. His stories and jokes from these trips were beloved by his family. Every sibling has a version of a story where John blew in and out of their homes like a swift Santa Ana breeze. It made you wonder, was he really here at all? He never wanted to make a big scene with goodbyes.

John slipped away peacefully and unassuming, Monday morning, August 17, 2023 with his daughter and son-in-law by his side. His siblings and good friends were able to gather in honor to share with John their loving, laughable stories, prayers, memories, and last respects. John’s family takes comfort knowing he is reunited in the loving arms of those who preceded him in death- his wife, Monica (Suttmiller) Mendoza; parents, Albert and Josephine Mendoza; siblings, Thomas “Tommy” Mendoza, Vera Hernandez, and Margie Lopez. He is survived by his daughter, Jennifer, her husband Jason Wilhelm, and grandson John Albert Wilhelm of Anchorage, Alaska; and son Jason and daughter in law, Jill Guevara Mendoza, children Kessler and Adrasia Mendoza of Gilbert, Arizona; his Redlands family: Charlie Mendoza, Albert (Vickie) Mendoza, Carmen Ramirez, Carol (Gil) Brown, Anita Mendoza (Dawkins Hodges), Ted (Martha) Mendoza; his Ohio family: Ann and Dennis Suttmiller, Dennis (Rita) Suttmiller, Marcia (Brent) Foster, Betty Jo (Bill) Stenten, Annette Suttmiller, Brian (Pam) Suttmiller, Susan Sutmiller, Sarah (Steven) Viesselmann, JonJay (Vicky) Suttmiller. He will be missed by all his siblings, their spouses, a myriad of nieces, nephews and their children and countless students and, forever friends that always stood by John’s side no matter big or small.

Please reach out to a family member for funeral and celebration of life details or call/text: Anita (657) 253-1354

In Memory of John Mendoza, a GSD lover all his life, please send donations to:

Arctic German Shepherd Rescue

Registered 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization


Paypal or checks to:

PO Box 82464

Fairbanks, AK 99708

Westside German Shepherd Rescue

NonProfit 501(c)(3), no kill shelter Los Angeles, CA

(310) 202-7283

Saving Paws Rescue Arizona (SPRAZ)

Charitable Organization 501(c)(3) Phoenix, AZ


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Michael Mendoza , please visit our flower store.


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