Arlington, Virginia----John “Jay” F. Mullen, 37, of Arlington, Virginia died Sunday while kayaking in West Virginia. John grew up in Burlington and Boxford, Massachusetts. He was an avid outdoorsman who was a writer and editor in the sports department at the Washington Post newspaper,
John developed a passion for rowing while attending Belmont Hill School in 1985. He was a two-year member of the school's rowing team and also was all-league as a football player his junior season. After graduation, he attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and was captain and assistant coach of the rowing club as well as assistant editor of the school's newspaper.
While an English and history major at Colby, he attended the Institute of European Studies in Vienna in 1987-88. He graduated cum laude in 1989 and spent the next three years pursuing his passion for the outdoors while traveling throughout New Zealand and Australia. He returned to the United States in 1992 and took a job as an editor for the EBSCO Publishing Co. in Peabody, Mass.
John joined the Washington Post in 1993, starting out as an editor of the sports section's statistics page and was eventually promoted to the copy desk. He quickly became an expert in Olympic sports and was the lead copy editor on the newspaper's award-winning guide to the 2004 Athens Games.
John began to write seriously in college and never lost his passion for it; in addition to his editing duties, became one of the newspaper's outdoors writers. His weekly column featured many of the sports he enjoyed, including rowing and surfing. He wrote about his experiences learning how to kayak and revealed intimate details of his own life while explaining how the sport had helped him.
"Over the past two years, I let paddling enter, then take over my life," Mullen wrote in an article in April of 2004. "This was good, more or less. I'd come out of a love-lost breakup and the clearest thing at the time was to get in my boat and thrash on the Potomac (River). I was 34, had stopped drinking some years before, but still things did not feel right. The kayak did. John Updike once wrote that cars have become our contemplation cells, the place we can think without distraction. The kayak, soon a series of them, became mine."
He once said that he attempted to spend every day of his life on the water and he became so proficient at the sport that he tried out for the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. After failing to make the team, he went to Athens
as a spectator to support the athletes who had defeated him.
John is survived by his parents, William and Mary (Halpin) Mullen of Gilford, NH, his brother and sister-in-law, Kurt and Amy Mullen of Newburyport Massachusetts and his grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. John Killilea of Massachusetts. He was very much loved by and will also be missed by his many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Calling hours will be held on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Carriage House of the Wilkinson-Beane Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant Street, Laconia, NH
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday at St. Joseph Church, 30 Church Street, Laconia, NH at 11:00AM by Rev. Gary Kosmowski, Pastor of the Church.
Internment will follow at Pine Grove Cemetery, Belknap Mountain Road, Gilford, NH.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, 1269 Union Avenue, Laconia, NH 03246.
Wilkinson-Beane Funeral Home & Cremation Services is in charge of the arrangements.