John Henry Paap

 1871 - 1919

John Paap was a pioneer teacher at three Seventh-day Adventist colleges and an academy principal before his untimely death at age 48 from the Spanish influenza. Born in Kaikoura, New Zealand, he spent his early life on a farm and in touring Australia, where he was known for his expertise as a sheep-shearer.

Paap and his family were converted to the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1892. Shortly after his baptism in autumn of that year, he and two of his brothers attended an annual church conference at which they learned about, and responded to, the need for teachers and workers in the church.

The following year he left for California to attend Healdsburg College, later relocated and renamed Pacific Union College, traveling on a missionary schooner named the Pitcairn, which was returning to the U.S. from its second voyage in the Pacific. Paap pursued the scientific program and following completion of his degree in 1895 was hired to teach at the college.

In that same year he married Jessie Creamer, a musically talented student and teacher at the college. Four years later, the Paaps accepted positions at Avondale School for Christian Workers, now Avondale College, in Australia.

For the next eleven years, both John and Jessie were important players in stabilizing this relatively new school. He taught science classes, managed the farm, served as a preceptor (dean) of men, and appears to have started the first brass band at the college.

In 1910 they were invited back to California to help in the development of Pacific Union College, successor to HC, now struggling in its second year at the new location in Angwin, California. He taught science classes and oversaw work in the school orchard and on the farm. It is probable that she taught music and assisted in church service music during this time since a formal music program had not yet been established. She started the art program in 1911.

In 1914 they relocated to Lodi Academy, where John would serve as principal until his death in the middle of the 1918-1919 school year, when he died in January from the Spanish influenza, a pandemic that had swept the world in the previous year. He was highly respected and loved by the teachers, students, and constituents of the school, and his death was regarded as terrible loss to both the school and community.

His story and the circumstances of his death were placed on the front page of the next issue of the Pacific Union Recorder, the union newsletter. The article spoke of his commitment in a lengthy tribute, which included the following comments:

Professor Papp was a public-spirited man and one of the most patriotic citizens of Lodi. He entered heartily into the Liberty Bond, Red Cross, YMCA, and war work drives. Among his dying statements were the following words: "We must remember our soldier boys, both in the camps and across the seas."

Those who knew professor Paap personally recognized in him the higher qualities that make life worthwhile. He was a steadfast Christian, kind and courteous in his family and in the church; always deeply interested in the welfare and progress of his students.

Jessie returned to PUC, where she taught art until her retirement in 1933. She was residing in Loma Linda, California, at the time of her death on her 89th birthday.


Sources: Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Milton Hook; Pacific Union Recorder article, 6 February 1919; Pacific Union College Faculty Listings, 1957 PUC Diogenes Lantern.