John Appleyard: Son remembers Pensacola’s beloved historian

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The beloved Pensacola legend John Appleyard passed away at the age of 97-years-old this past Tuesday night. While he may not be with family and friends anymore his legacy is something nobody will ever forget.

John Appleyard aka “Apple” was a father, a broadcaster, a historian, and so much more. For many he was the “Go-to Guy” for anything in Pensacola. But it was never about recognition for him. He just did it for the enjoyment.

His son, Dick Appleyard says, “Here’s the story of interest everything you read about my dad stories, front page of the paper, social media, just going and talking about my dad…the interesting part of that my dad didn’t retire until he was 75 from the agency. He was a very focused business man but he did not plan on sitting still and he worked until the last moments of his life.”

November would have marked “Apples” 98th birthday but he never asked for a dime for any of his work after his retirement. Dick tells WKRG News 5 other than volunteering within the community, you couldn’t get his father away from watching the Chicago Cubs.

In a story WKRG News 5 did with John Appleyard he says, “I purchased the baseball major league package so I watch every Cub game, not always all of it when they play at 9-o-clock on the west coast it makes it a little tough, but I see part of everyone.”

Other than “Apples” love of baseball he read, studied, and learned. He was musically talented too and even showed his harmonica skills by playing the National Anthem at one of the Blue Wahoos games.

He was always proving age is just a number.

Dick says his dad lived a full and wonderful life. But this year took a toll on him. He unfortunately took a bad fall days before he passed among facing many other personal expectancies.

“I would tell you my dad actually died of a broken heart, says Dick. “He lost his wife in July and they had been lifelong partners and with COVID he lost his audiences. He couldn’t gather people to hear his stories and this and that and the other and lost his passion for whatever because his heart was broken.”

Dick and the rest of the Appleyard family are still processing the loss of a man nobody will ever replace, but he knows now his dad has a new audience who are ready to hear his stories.

“My dad didn’t look to the left he didn’t look to the right,” says Dick. “He had his mission and he didn’t compare himself to anybody. And he would tell my kids and his kids and other kids find what you’re great at and really focus on that. And don’t envy other people. Don’t attack other people, don’t be negative towards other people and have people work together regardless of who they are and make the community a better place.”

WKRG News 5 has had the privilege to work with john and we want to give our deepest regards to his family and friends.

There will be a celebration of his life held at the Blue Wahoos stadium on Monday at 4pm and all are welcomed.

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