John Sewell, beloved husband, father, uncle, and grandfather, passed away November 19, 2021 in Sequim, Washington, after a long and brave battle with dementia.
John was born July 7, 1936, in Brockley, South London, England. From a young age, he excelled at athletics, and was twice selected to play for England School’s Under 15 rugby team. On leaving school, he first became a sprinter with Blackheath Harriers, and then signed as a professional footballer (soccer player) for Bexleyheath & Welling in 1954.In 1955, John transferred to Charlton Athletic, and then in 1963 to Crystal Palace, where he was to make 258 appearances at right full-back. In 1967-68 he was named club captain, and in 1969, led Palace to the First Division (then the top tier in English football) for the first time in the club's history.
In 1972, the family left for America, where John played and coached in the fledgling North American Soccer League (NASL). In 1975, he was named NASL Coach of the Year, for his success guiding a St. Louis Stars squad comprised almost exclusively of home-grown American players. At the end of the 1977 season, the Stars moved to Anaheim, California where the team became the California Surf. After his football career came to a close, John and wife Maureen stayed in California for almost 30 years, for a time running a successful tea shop and then antique store in Cambria and Paso Robles on the central coast, before retiring to Washington state in 2006.
John lived his life with dignity, decency, and character. (He boasts the rare distinction of never having been yellow carded during his English playing career). Off the field, he was a quiet, shy person at heart but had a mischievous sense of humor, especially around his family. He was an avid tennis player, loved dogs, children (especially his two grandkids), ice cream, a nice cup of tea, and watching football on TV.
John is survived by Maureen, his loving wife of 63 years, sons Howard (Elizabeth) and Warren, and grandchildren William and Emma.
For anyone inspired to honor John’s memory, the family is suggesting a donation in his name to Head for Change, a UK-based charity supporting ex-football or rugby players affected by neurodegenerative disease as a result of their professional supporting career: https://headforchange.org.uk/donate
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