Our friend, John Gissendanner, passed away at around 3 a.m. Thursday, July 3, 2008, at home with his wife and brother in attendance.

He was in such pain and mentally removed from all that he called life. It is a great blessing that he is free from all the cancer that held him here against his will.

I spent many of his last days at his side telling stories we experienced together for more than 42 years of friendship. Those stories we told we both knew by heart and never tired of hearing.

I loved John, as we all did, yet for me, he was my best friend. He influenced me in so many ways and loved me even when at times I was most unlovable.

You can tell you have a best friend when that person knows all about you and loves you anyway. He often said to me, “I’ve known you the better part of my life, and the better part of my life has been knowing you.”

His life is over and he’s gone, a tragic loss to all who knew him. I’ve only begun to sense the loss and find there are no words that help, but I have to express my great relief that John has been set free. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, he’s free at last.

My love to you all.

— Milton Russell French