Music 08

John Lackner

November 6, 1953 ~ June 8, 2020 (age 66)




Age 66, of Sheraden. Beloved son of Vincent F. and Margaret Skeehan Lackner of Sheraden, he is survived by his mother; his sister Margaret Anne (Marggie) Lackner; brothers Vincent F. Lackner Jr. (Anne) and Dr. David F. Lackner (Lynn); five nieces and nephews—Kyle (Leyla Axmedzade) of Berlin, Abby (Maany Peyvan) of Chicago, Jordan of Gibsonia, and Christiana (Nicolas Perez) and Katarina, both of San Francisco; as well as his dear friend Tammy Hetrick, her daughter Ashley, whom he helped raise from the age of 2, and her granddaughter Chloe. He attended Holy Innocents Grade School and Sewickley Academy, and graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island in 1972. John enjoyed meeting people and made friends easily. He was multi-talented and became an expert in many fields on his own.

A gifted athlete, John pitched a Little League no-hitter and had a triple play at the age of eight. In high school, he starred in basketball and soccer. As a junior, he was named to the all-New England basketball team. In July 1971, he traveled with the Rhode Island High School Select team that played teams in England and Scotland. His team won the International Club Tournament in Edinburgh, Scotland, and he was the leading scorer in several of the games.

With a raconteur’s tendency to enhance his stories, John came back from the trip to the UK talking about one player he had to guard and claimed that he was 7’6” and weighed 350 pounds. We did the normal adjustment and took off six inches and 50 pounds. It turns out that John *understated* his opponent’s size: he was actually 7’6-1/4” and all of 350 pounds, and held the record as the UK's tallest man from 1967 through 2007. John’s cred within the family shot up from that day forward.

For the rest of the 70s, John played lead guitar in the Walnut Band, a Grateful-Dead-inspired group popular in Boston and at colleges and nightclubs up and down the East coast. After the band broke up, he worked in construction on homes and highways and managed explosives in building tunnels in Pittsburgh. In yet another switch, he opened perfume shops in Shadyside, East Hampton (NY), and Denver, where he was adept at mixing natural oils to create custom scents for his clients.

Ahead of the times, John then co-founded AMPS Wireless Data in Phoenix, a company that developed one of the first wireless credit card processing devices ever used, with particular focus on stadiums, taxicabs, golf courses, and airplanes. Some seven years later, he moved on to sell luxury cars in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Always quick to respond to people’s needs, John returned to Pittsburgh in 2010 to help care for his aging parents. He managed home repairs, built a wheelchair ramp off the front porch, installed a first-floor bathroom, expanded the vegetable garden, and became an inventive cook.

During his last three years, he made some 50 Skeehan Custom Guitars, named after his grandfather. Each guitar was a work of art that impressed not only his friends and family but also big-band stars. See where you can read John’s story in his own words.

John was grateful for the opportunity to receive immunotherapy treatment that allowed him to extend his life for several years. He lost his long battle with lung cancer on Monday, June 8, 2020, and died at home in his sleep. Funeral arrangements are being handled by William F. Conroy Funeral Home, Inc. Sheraden. A celebration of his life will be held at a later time. You may express your condolences to the family through our online tribute wall at

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