Pensacola grieves death of beloved author and resident John Appleyard


Grace Perrett, Staff Writer

Late American author and political activist Helen Keller once said “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.” These words ring true in the lives of many Pensacolans since the death of Mr. John Appleyard. 

On Oct. 20, 2020 Pensacola lost a beloved friend, author, mentor, and historian John Henry Appleyard; however, his legacy is not lost at all and will continue to live on. 

John Appleyard, also known as Apple to those close to him, impacted Pensacola in a number of ways. History was such an important part of his life and he spent much of his time educating others on the history he grew to love. 

He worked tirelessly to teach others about Pensacola and the many stories that our wonderful city holds,” said Rick Appleyard, grandson of John Appleyard. “Despite having not been raised here, he developed a love for Pensacola and was thrilled to share that love with anyone that would listen. In essence, he helped put Pensacola’s past on the map.”

In his 97 years of life, Appleyard was able to accomplish so much. Rick Appleyard implied that it is not just one single thing his grandfather will be remembered for, but a compilation of many great things. 

“He served in World War II, was an entrepreneur, speaker, author of over 200 books, Cubs fan, baseball announcer for the Blue Wahoos, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” Rick Appleyard said. 

Being a man of many titles and roles, John was deeply treasured by his community. 

Community service was always an important part of John’s life. If there were ever an opportunity to serve his community, John was eager and willing to take part. 

John founded his firm, John Appleyard Agency Inc., alongside his wife Eleanor in February of 1959. This firm has served as a token of advertising and marketing to the Pensacola community since its creation. 

His clients as well as himself were recipients of over 100 Freedom Foundation medals and awards for patriotic presentations, according to John’s bio on the Appleyard website. 

While serving as a local lecturer, John was able to speak to many University of West Florida students about a number of topics over the years, including his favorite– the history of Pensacola. 

He had a huge part to play in making the University of West Florida what it is today.

“One of Apple’s best friends during his early years here in Pensacola was actually Dr. Harold Crosby, who helped to found the University of West Florida and was our school’s first President,” said Rick. “Apple was there from the very beginning of UWF, and helped in various ways through his business and other ways to create The University from virtually nothing.”

When UWF launched its very first football program in 2015, not many individuals were more ecstatic than John according to the Pensacola News Journal. 

His relationship with UWF and passion for The University went far beyond his friendships with employees. He played a huge part in UWF’s Historical trust according to Executive Director Robert Overton. 

Aside from writing more than 200 books, John was able to joyfully produce films for a number of local businesses including the University of West Florida. 

Rick Appleyard said, “there are a number of things John would want to be remembered for, but most of all he would want to be remembered for his love of his family, and his love of Pensacola.”

John’s legacy will continue to live on through the lives of many Pensacolans. Afterall, we can never lose what was deeply loved; it simply becomes a part of us.