The Loss of Love and Service of Jonathon Goley

Candle Flame

By Dorothy H.

The Unknown
“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”
~ Claude Bernard

To say that Saturday, October 18, 2014, was a stunning and shocking day would be akin to saying that if the earth spun off its axle it would be a bad day.

At 10:00 am, Pam W. called me in a controlled panic saying that she hadn’t spoken to Jonathon Goley, the third member of the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers (WAFT) International AA Convention (IAAC) steering committee, for over a week and was fearful. Pam went to his place to see if she could help Jonathon out of a possible depression. When she got there she saw that Jonathon’s smokes were on the porch, his car was in the garage and his condo neighbors had not seen him for over a week. Pam contacted his sister, Dorathy. Dorathy told Pam that he didn’t show up for his 62nd birthday party that they had for him a few days before.

Pam called the police.

I felt powerless.

Like many other things in my alcoholic life, I wanted to refuse the reality of life for my benefit.

I lived too far away to pack my hammers to go break into his condo myself. To prove to everyone he actually found the love of his life and flew away with him to a warm tropical island, where they were sitting on the beach by exquisite waterfalls.

Two hours later

Pam called back

Her voice was flat

She spoke slowly

Without tone.

“Dorothy… Jonathon has passed away. The police called me and said they found him in his home… the police said that there was no foul play, no evidence of an overdose or suicide. They are saying it’s natural causes.”


I said as all that makes me who I am collapsed inside me…

“I know, I know, honey,” Pam said. “I want to remember him as the successful artist he was on the verge of becoming. The mural work he was doing, the recent art show awards he received, the freelance book illustrations, and how he was getting a new pension from the studios he worked for, and how that was going to pull him out of his financial troubles.”

Broken Hearted
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”
~ Buddha

Jonathon grounded me, loved me, supported me, opened his home to me, cooked for me, and explored the internal and external world with anyone who would take his hand in friendship.



I had known Jonathon since my third week of sobriety. He gave me my first year medallion and my birthday cakes.

From the first time I heard him speak at the meeting, I was impressed with him. He was thoughtful, insightful and gentle. Jonathon struggled with depression and childhood issues and had a history of drug use. He traveled the world. He loved Buddhism and was beginning to explore Druidism/Paganism and Taoism.

Often, when I was stressed or in a complaining mood, Jonathon would stop the conversation, point to the sky and ask me how many colors I saw in the sunset. He asked me if I could describe the colors to him. Then he asked me to breathe and watch the sunset with him.

Once, I was talking with Jonathon about my struggles to understand my role in the growing WAFT movement, and the world we live as he drove me to my commuter train. Jonathon gave me love and support, and at the end of it, he told me about the old movies and biographies of women he loved watching and reading. Jonathon said he admired and loved strong-willed, determined, fiery women and said not to give up on what I know what was right no matter what others think.

He hugged me and waved as the train left.

The Loss to the WAFT Movement
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chödrön

Jonathon was an unsung hero in the WAFT movement. Unlike me, Jonathon was not someone who felt comfortable entering into the larger WAFT debates. To many in the global WAFT AA Fellowship, he was the anonymous steering committee member, but he was not like that to the LA WAFT groups.

To the LA WAFT groups, he was a community builder. He was known for throwing BBQs and potlucks where he brought the different WAFT groups together.

Jonathon made my transition into sobriety smoother. The parties brought us all together where we could relate to each other outside of the shares at meetings, but to one another in a daily human level.

It was Jonathon’s love of fellowship that inspired him to be a part of creating WAFT IAAC. Jonathon wanted to create a warm, loving, safe environment for all AAers at the convention and within global AA. He was hoping to incorporate an art show into the convention events. He was going to create all the signage for the days of the convention by hand. Jonathon helped design the WAFT IAAC logo and created the graphics for it. He also designed our fliers and traveled with me on various outreach trips around southern California. Jonathon, Pam W. and I all worked collaboratively on every decision the Steering Committee has made.

We NEED Your Help
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Don’t worry; we are determined to follow through with the convention! The Los Angeles groups are closing ranks to help with the technical aspects of the convention and to love and support Pam W., each other and me through this difficult time.

WAFT IAAC was built on the belief in AA and the WAFT fellowship. The Steering Committee has always known, without the help of the international WAFT Fellowship at large, this event would not happen!

We are calling on our WAFT brothers and sisters for your love and patience with Pam W. and me, along with the Los Angeles WAFT groups. Organizing an international convention itself is a stressful and daunting undertaking, but it is a 100 times more daunting as we are trying to push through our grief in this process.

We may not be able to make updates to our site as quickly, emails may not be answered immediately, phone calls may not be return right away, and we might forget many other important details at the days of the convention. When we meet you in person we may not be as sociable as we may like to be.

In asking our WAFT brothers and sisters for love and support, we ask that when you arrive at the convention, if there is any way you see you can be of service to the convention, please don’t be shy. Move into service any and every possible opportunity you can humanly do so.

With you, we know we can continue the work that Jonathon and many other WAFTS have dedicated the last two years of their lives to.

Pam W. and I are working out the details for a memorial service for Jonathon at the convention. Once we have those details down, we will make an announcement about it.

If you are able to arrive to Santa Monica on Wednesday, we will be having a volunteer meeting at the Unitarian Universalist church where the convention will be held at 3 PM.

We are looking forward to meeting you in November!

Yours in Love and Service,
Dorothy H.
Chair/Founder of WAFT IAAC

14 Responses

  1. Pam W says:

    Dear Eugene,
    This is so lovely to hear about Jonathon from his past… We are planning to have a memorial at the convention and want to show some of his creative ventures along with stories and memories from the fellowship. Are you going to be joining us? Would you be willing to send a digital version of this piece to us to show?
    Yours in sobriety,
    Pam W

  2. Eugene Brezany says:

    How sadly ironic that I hear about Jonathan’s passing 35 years after I last saw him in the late seventies. I’ve moved to Mississippi and have thus been a bit out of pocket for some time, though not quite that long. I remember it was a couple months before I got a nudge from the judge that got me to AA. I wonder when Jon got his call. At any rate, one night, the director, Judy, and I stopped by and tapped on Jon’s window at midnight and talked him into doing the attached poster. Later, he and I and our friend Marvis formed a company we called Nexus to do commercials but a few storyboards was as far as we went. I can’t help but wonder if in an alternative universe we three would have been billionaire toothpaste or whatever purveyors. We were pretty good friends and I’m really sorry to hear of his passing, but then again I’m awfully happy to hear that he went as a friend of Bill.

    Jon Goley Poster

  3. Thomas B. says:

    A terrible loss of unutterable magnitude, Dorothy, personally for you, the WAFT IAAC Steering Committee, and the members of the WAFT community in Los Angeles area AA meetings.

    As well, it is a loss for us throughout the WAFT community at large, particularly those of us who shall attend the upcoming convention. We shall not have the opportunity to be graced in person by Jonathon’s humble, generous spirit, which you describe so adroitly in this post — nevertheless, we shall all benefit from the fruits of his exemplary labor with the Steering Committee the past couple of years.

  4. Joe C says:

    Dorothy, Pam, I won’t feign understanding of your loss. We are all impacted but when it’s personal, there is a cruelty to the suffering. Hundreds of friends are on our way. We can’t take your pain away but we’ll help see you through.

  5. Maureen says:

    Dorothy and Pam, I am so sorry to hear the devastating news of Jonathan’s passing. It was a privilege to meet him at the Oceanside fundraiser on Aug. 17. Unsure at that point about what I could do for WAFT, I became inspired by his creativity and freethinking – we talked about the drag show and how fun that was going to be. I am just so sorry that you and Pam are without his warmth, energy, and love. Please let me know if I can help out on Wednesday evening.

  6. Christopher G says:

    It was a privilege to have met him at our meeting Aug. 14th and to have shared my birthday sushi dinner with him and you. Was so glad to hear that you both got to stargaze that night before returning to LA. My condolences and best wishes to you and all his loved ones.

  7. Joy in Texas says:

    What a gift to walk the path with a beautiful soul like your friend, Jonathon. I am so sorry for your loss. We are forever changed for the better because of people like him. Wish I could be in LA for the convention, but it’s a long way from home. Your fellow WAFTs will suit up & show up, because that’s what we do. You are not alone.

  8. life-j says:

    Dorothy, Pam,
    So sorry to hear this…..

  9. Dorothy H. says:


    We are ALL mourning an important WAFT leader. Many are crying and have a heavy heart right now. Thank you for your love and support.

  10. Dorothy H. says:


    Yes, if you can come to town earlier that would be helpful. If you can only come to the Wednesday at 3pm meeting that will be wonderful also.

  11. Dorothy H. says:

    Thank You Gary. I just asked the family if they could loan us some of his art to display. They are overwhelmed with everything right. We are also asking people who knew Jonathon to write short statements about memories they have of him for we can display them with his art.

  12. Gary W. says:

    Thank You Dorothy. I think it would be an appropriate tribute to have Jonathon’s art displayed at the convention, a most perfect tribute indeed.

  13. Pat N. says:

    So why am I crying over the death of a man I never met?

    In part I’m crying for Pam, Dorothy, and the other AAers in LA who will miss him. I may be crying because he’ll never see (in his original body, anyway), the historic WAFT IAAC he helped create. I’m sure I’m crying out of gratitude (part of my weird emotional makeup) for his life and his sobriety. He’s part of the millionsfold fellowship around the world and over the decades which has brought me to life and made the Promises a reality.

    PLEASE let me know what I can do to help out. Do you need any out-of-towners to come earlier than Wed. afternoon?

  14. Deirdre says:

    What a horrible thing. I’m so sorry to hear that we have lost someone so important. We are all blazing a sober path and we can only do that with the help of our fellow AAers. Jonathon G. Presente!

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