John Richard Headland, a 27-year resident of Westport and Weston, CT, lost his heroic battle with Lewy body dementia on September 9, 2023. He was 65. John died at Regional Hospice in Danbury with his wife of 45 years, Julie Strandquist Headland, by his side.
Born to Patricia Ann and Carl Ben Headland in Key West, FL, on February 15, 1958, John was the second of three children. He grew up with his younger sister, Elizabeth Ann. His older sister, Ann Leslie, predeceased him at age 5. Despite this tragedy, John grew up in a loving home and developed an adventurous spirit. The son of a naval officer, John traveled domestically and internationally as a young boy, attending boarding school in Sydney, Australia in 1970, as well as living in Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia. John developed an interest in soccer and music, learned to play guitar at a young age, and envisioned a career that gave him the opportunity to satisfy his wanderlust. He spotted the path to pursing this dream in the 1960s sitcom Family Affair, which depicted the glamorous Uncle Bill as a civil engineer residing in New York City and traveling the world. On this romantic vision, John sought out and received a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering at George Washington University.
At GW, John met Julie Strandquist at a Christian Fellowship meeting. They embarked on a long distance romance while Julie was in Israel for a school year, and were married on December 17, 1978. John continued to pursue his education, obtaining a Masters of Civil Engineering at California State University at Long Beach and his Doctoral Studies in Civil Engineering at Duke University.
While excelling at his studies, John and Julie began their family, and John embarked on making his dream career a reality. He worked with several employers including the United States Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) before settling into work at Moffat & Nichol, an international Engineering firm, where he would work for the next 22 years. His passion and hard work would land him hundreds of projects, from wind and wave analysis in remote Back Island, Alaska; to solving the complicated problem of disposing of dredged material by creating Poplar Island, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland; to advanced dredging projects in Lake Maricabo, Venezuela and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; to post-tsunami analysis in Sri Lanka; to design of the now-familiar Paulus Hook Pier and Ferry Terminal in Jersey City, New Jersey. John could attest to coastal structures, studies, land reclamation and dredging projects on all six inhabited continents and claim world-class expertise in fluid dynamics and dredging. All the while, John took time during his globe-trotting to enjoy sojourns in France, Norway, Australia, the Bahamas, and various other beautiful locales.
John's personal passion was music. It was a passion he retained throughout his life, teaching himself and his children to play guitar, piano, dulcimer and harmonica. His love and admiration extended from popular artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits; to classical music like J.S. Bach and the choral arrangements of John Rutter; to Broadway, including the work of Stephen Sondheim; to jazz artists like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus.
John and his family settled in Westport, CT in 1996, and continued to live in Westport and Weston until his death. He spent many years taking sunset walks on Compo Beach. He was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2019, and never stopped loving music, his family, or his God. Even as his mind slipped away, he faced this incurable and difficult disease with a steadfast heart, rooted in the everlasting love and light of the undefeated Spirit of his faith.
John was a valued member of the engineering community. All who met him knew the wit of his mind and the kindness of his heart. He was firmly dedicated to his family, and committed to every aspect of his children's daily lives. His entire family is grief-stricken over the loss of their family's hero. He was an amazing man who will be missed by everyone whose life he has touched.
John is survived by his wife, Julie; his three daughters Leslye Headland (Rebecca), Inga Headland and Audrey Slade (Tyler); and his son, John R. Headland, II. He is also survived by his six grandchildren: Caleb, Joshua, Elijah, Abigail and Lucy Slade, and Winona Henderson-Headland; and his sister Elizabeth (John) Bossinger.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 16, at 12:00 noon at Norfield Congregational Church, 64 Norfield Road, Weston, CT 06883, the Reverend Dr. Bernard R. Wilson officiating. A reception will follow immediately in the adjacent church hall.
Burial will be PRIVATE and held at the convenience of the family at Willowbrook Cemetery, 395 Main Street, Westport.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in John's name to: