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John Philip Algar
  • Charleston Area Justice Ministry
    c/o Holy Communion Church
    218 Ashley Ave.
    Charleston, SC 29403

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“Dear Joan and family,Please accept my condolences for John's passing. He was everything stated in the obituary, which was very thoughtful, and a lot...Read More ยป
1 of 4 | Posted by: Randy Pelzer - Charleston, SC

“Thinking of you, Joni, and sending you lots of prayers! What an incredible tribute his obituary was!! I loved reading it! Take care, my dear. ”
2 of 4 | Posted by: Vida Robertson - Raleigh, NC

“So very sorry ”
3 of 4 | Posted by: Anna Taylor Blythe

“Jim, my sincere condolences to you and your family. Much love, Sully ”
4 of 4 | Posted by: Sully Witte - Friend


John Philip Algar, 76, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., husband of Joan Hitt Algar, died peacefully in his home Tuesday, May 12th. Surviving far beyond initial expectations, but ultimately succumbing to a terminal pulmonary condition that began in 2003 after a very rare medication reaction. His private graveside service will be held at St. Philips Church, Charleston Sunday May 24th.
Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Downtown Chapel.

A Charleston attorney for decades, John was born in Los Angeles, California on March 30, 1944--the second son of Persis Whitton Algar and James N. Algar, one of Walt Disney's original animators whose work included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937; the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia, 1940; and pioneering the nature documentary genre in 1948 with the True Life Adventures Series as writer/director on the Vanishing Prairie, The Living Desert, White Wilderness earning five Academy Awards.

John graduated first in his class from North Hollywood high school, attended Pomona College in Claremont California, graduating with a degree in English in 1966.
He served nearly three years in the US Army, including a term in Vietnam, and emerged with the rank of Lieutenant in 1969.

In the spring of 1970, John drove to the South, with dreams of being a writer and meeting a Southern belle. Eventually he landed a job as the police reporter on the Charleston News & Courier. There, he became smitten by another reporter on the staff, Joan Hitt, at whose side he would spend the next half century. The two were wed on August 28, 1971 at St. Philip's Church.

He attended law school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and graduated in 1973. Returning to California, he passed the bar, and was employed by the Kern County District Attorney as a deputy prosecutor for seven years, trying all manner of cases including complex death penalty murder cases.

After work and on the weekends, John was devoted to his other adventure with Joan--the raising of three sons. It was a heroic effort that he once said required far more bravery than anything he endured in Vietnam, and began with the purchase of a very pre-owned 1966 Chevy Sportvan Deluxe. John unbolted the benchseats and secured a flooring of four inches of foam rubber on which he stapled a piece of carpet. He tossed in a few bean bag chairs and then spent years leading his young family throughout California and introducing the pleasures of the West--journeying into the mythic Mojave Desert, breathing in the verdant climes of Carmel, Point Lobos and Big Sur and even camping near the largest tree in the world, strangely named the General William T. Sherman Giant Sequoia (John could explain why, and of course, did).

In 1981 he returned with his family to Charleston and entered private civil practice at which he labored successfully for nearly 40 years; the final decade being Of Counsel with Mark C. Tanenbaum.

John was a member in good standing of the Charleston Ancient Artillery Society, a group originally founded by veterans of the American Revolution whose battalion "protected the Charleston City Gates". Known as the Old Bats, the Society met for the express purpose of "basking in the sunshine of their mutual company." In more recent centuries, the basking typically involved a monthly poker game which John attended faithfully for some 35 years, coming out ahead by a dollar amount alleged to be a very high single digit.

John was adroit at the droll quip, the one-liner, and the sly take. Early on in his marriage, Joan became enamored with the newly formed 700 Club in Virginia. For only an initial gift of many thousands of dollars, the first 700 donors would get their named engraved in stone. "I will give them the money," said the struggling graduate student, "but the engraving will have to read: John P. 'Is all this really necessary?' Algar."

John was also the unparalleled master of silence as retort. In an extended family of storytellers, gossips, scheherazades, fireside orators and others who are just really really loud, John perfected a wordless retort that he could deploy in all kinds of ways, slaying a room with laughter, buttoning a story with poignance, or edging a nearly penitant child into a truly cringeworthy confession. John's riposte of silence was never intimidating, as it might get caricatured in movies, but always honest or content, kind and revealing. The Lowcountry painter Manning Williams captured it in his legendary canvas, "The Oyster Roast." John's silence was always an invitation to everyone else to consider what just happened here, what just went down, did you catch that? For those who loved him, it's what he left us.

He is survived by his devoted wife, Joan Algar of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; his three stalwart sons, Robert Chance Algar (Kate) of Concord, California, James Hitt Algar (Raleigh) of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.and Whitton John Algar of James Island, S.C.; five treasured grandchildren Rezo, Joshua, Aurora, West and Winter; one sister Laurie Algar (Randy) of Niwot, Colorado and two brothers, Bruce Algar (Judy) of Bluffton, S.C.and James Algar (Pam) of Valencia, California.

Memorials may be made to Water Missions International, PO Box 63320, Charlotte, NC 28263-3320 and Charleston Area Justice Ministry, c/o Holy Communion Church, 218 Ashley Ave., Charleston, SC 29403.

For memories and stories, all are invited to enjoy the John P. Algar Memorial Page on Facebook.