John called himself, "an unintentional entrepreneur and an accidental CEO," because starting in his 50s he began to revolutionize higher education and in the process, built a giant university.
Here is his remarkable story.
In 1972, John was a tenured San Jose State University professor when he had a grand idea.
He was running a program to educate teachers and police officers on troubled children and family issues. The program became so popular, that some students wanted to take more classes.
But because of their jobs, they needed flexibility in class scheduling so they could attend classes before or after regular school hours and on weekends.
San Jose State rejected the idea.
So John approached the University of San Francisco (USF) which welcomed the idea as a means of overcoming its troubled finances.
In 1974, John took a leave of absence from San Jose State, and joined with USF to create the Institute for Community Research and Development (ICRD).
With flexible class hours, ICRD caught on quickly.
It also added a new concept. Instead of conventional lectures, ICRD had professors and students work together as partners in learning, a much friendlier approach.
But the State of California was critical and reluctant to issue accreditation.
After battling the California bureaucracy and being barraged by critics, John was nearly broke, but he refused to give-up on his concept.
Consequently, in 1976 he moved to Arizona.
Once again the educational establishment fought him but this time he prevailed. John's University of Phoenix began to grow.
Today, the University of Phoenix in addition to its online classes offers conventional classes, conveniently located, with flexible hours.
It now has 241,000 students.
This form of learning is now embraced by many traditional educational institutions around the world, including those who at one time ridiculed John.
As for John, he recently passed away at the age of 93, a very wealthy philanthropist.
Many a charity became the recipient of John's generosity, and also some controversial causes, such as initiatives to legalize marijuana and a company to clone pets.
As a result of the latter venture, John succeeded in replicating his beloved dog Missy, with his much loved Missy 2, as he remained ever the unconventional man.