John Klomp and Joe Brannen
A retired art educator, John met Joe during his first year of teaching, 45 years ago! At that time, Joe was in the Navy stationed on the Saratoga in Philadelphia, where it was docked for repairs.
A retired Bank Officer, Joe completed his undergraduate work at Florida State and is “a diehard Seminole fan.” John graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and earned a Masters in Art Education at Glassboro State, (now Rowan University) in New Jersey. John completed his Doctoral studies at New York University, School of Education, and has always considered himself to be a working artist. As he puts it, “ask me about my 15 Andy Warhol minutes sometime.”
The couple spent their professional lives (38 years) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They retired in 2005 and now live six months of the year in south Florida and the remainder here in Rehoboth. John and Joe celebrate their anniversary on March 4, but they were married in New York City last August 15, 2012 at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, “so now we get to celebrate two anniversaries each year.”
The newlyweds reside here in Rehoboth with their beloved cat, Anna Banana, AKA The White Princess/ Princess Anna.
When/why did you start volunteering at CAMP and what events/activities have you been involved with since?
John: I did an exhibit of mixed media distressed paintings and objet d’art with Murray back in 1990. Joe and I became members of CAMP Rehoboth soon after that. We didn’t do much volunteer work until we retired and moved here in 2005, but we’ve volunteered at Sundance for many years, working mainly with the decorating team.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
John: There are just too many—but mostly it has been the many individuals we have gotten to know. Joe: Seeing the transformation of the Convention Center for Sundance every year from a blank palette into a wonderland of color, shape and light.
What does CAMP Rehoboth mean to you?
John and Joe: In addition to the acronym CAMP, “Create A More Positive” Rehoboth, and most importantly to us, CAMP was the first organized LGBT community we actually lived in. We have found a place where LGBT people have become part of a larger community. Through the organization that Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald have built, Rehoboth Beach points toward a future in which LGBT people and the larger community and culture work together…creating a safer, inclusive, and diverse community.
First thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “Rehoboth.”
John: CAMP. Joe: Home.
What’s your favorite thing to do here in the off-season?
John and Joe: Take a walk on the beach at Henlopen State Park. Joe: Do home improvement projects.
Fast forward or rewind? If you could go ahead in time or back, which would you pick and why?
Joe and John: We’ve often said that we would go back in time if we could take our present knowledge with us. John: However, I would like to go forward because I want to see the fruition of all the work I see so many people doing to create the democracy our forefathers perceived dimly, a place where all of us (each and every one) will live together in equality and freedom.
Host-with-the-Most! If you could pick any four people to invite for dinner, who would it be and why those people?
John: Jesus Christ—I want to know what he would think of our time, and the various churches that each claim to have the correct biblical interpretation. Also, Siddhartha Gautama, Muhammad, and any one of the Hindu devī-devatās, for exactly the same reason as I would like to have dinner with Jesus Christ, except that I would want to know their views on contemporary interpretations of each of their holy books.
Lost! If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you (other than food and water)?
John: A copy of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, my iPod with all its music intact, and a solar charger for the iPod. Joe: John, my cat, Anna Banana, and the New York Times every Sunday.
Early bird or night owl? Why?
Joe: I’m a morning person. I like to get all my chores done before noon. John: night owl. Night-time is when I get to catch-up on my reading.
You’ve just won the lottery. What’s the first thing you’d do with your winnings?
John and Joe: Set-up a trust that would take care of the basics for two of us, and that would allow us to build a permanent money making machine in order to give to others in perpetuity.
Favorite part of a wedding?
John: In our wedding, it was the blessing by Reverend Pat Bumgardner. She had Joe and I put our foreheads together. We both had tears in our eyes. I have a photograph, and a mixed media distressed painting I made using that photo. Joe: The reception.
Joe: People who drive slowly in the passing lane on Interstate highways. John: When television personalities and pundits say “It’s a whole nother thing.” “Nother” is not a word!
What was your last New Year’s Resolution and how long did it last?
Joe: To stop smoking. I made it a couple months. I’m still working on the stopping part.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?
Joe and John: Where we live now. Rehoboth Beach is perfect in every way except for those three cold and damp winter months. South Florida has perfect winter weather. Now, if only we could fix the politics.
What are you most thankful for?
John: The gift of love and life. Joe: Health and good friends.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside of both of you the last seven or eight years decorating for Sundance, and the best part of that memory for me is that you’re almost always together…as you should be. You’re quite an inspirational couple. Our sincere thanks for all you’ve done here at CAMP Rehoboth and our congratulations on your long-awaited and well-deserved marriage.
Know someone whose efforts should be considered for the CAMP Rehoboth Volunteer Spotlight? Email your suggestion.