Janesville man leaves flood documentary as legacy
A man whose vision will be part of local history for years to come died in a traffic accident Saturday night.
John F. Gage, 41, of Janesville had nearly completed his latest video project, “The Flood of 2008,” said his father and video-production partner, Howard Gage of Janesville.
The younger Gage parlayed his natural abilities at video production into both a business and a creative outlet, his father said.
John and Howard started Videogenics in 1986. They produced a variety of videos for families, churches, the community and others over the years, including numerous videos to promote the annual United Way campaigns.
“John was a wonderfully creative guy. Just a wonderful guy,” said Gail Graham, president of the United Way of North Rock County.
John and Howard produced nearly every video that touched Janesville for more than two decades, Graham said. John did the local Crime Stoppers videos for many years, and he produced videos for Riverfest, his father said.
“They couldn’t do things fast enough or well enough for you,” Graham said. “We’d bring stuff down to them, and boom it was done.”
“I think it was his artistic vent,” Howard said. “They told him basically go ahead and give us something and do it your way, and he did it his way.”
Howard said John had a great feel for video, which can be seen in his final work: “It’s brilliant, it really is. … The few people who’ve seen it said it’s just so marvelous, what he’s done.”
Graham called the flood video John’s shining glory. “He has footage you would just not believe.”
Howard said John called him one Sunday in June from Jefferson, saying: “Dad, these people are really hurting. We’ve got to do something about it.”
John put his heart and soul into the video, working into the early morning hours some days, Howard said.
Howard has a long history of TV news production, but he said John had a natural talent. When Howard started working for the Janesville School District in the early 1980s, Howard ordered video editing equipment and brought the boxes home to work on over winter break.
Before Howard could open the boxes, John, then about 14, had set up the equipment and produced a video, Howard recalled.
John’s last video was shown at a fund-raiser for flood relief at Fins Bar and Grill in Newville on Saturday.
Howard said John called his parents at about 8:30 p.m. to say that he was getting rave reviews from those who saw it at Fins.
“The last thing he told us was, ‘I love you both,’” Howard said.
The State Patrol was called out at 10:56 p.m. Saturday to Interstate 90/39 southbound near the Interstate 43 interchange at Beloit. John, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car as it left the road and rolled over. He was pronounced dead at the scene early Sunday morning.
John’s survivors include a daughter, two brothers and his parents, Janice and Howard of Janesville.
Funeral services are set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Schneider Apfel Schneider & Schneider Funeral Home. Visitation is set for 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.
Copies of John Gage’s DVD, “The Flood of 2008,” are expected to be ready for sale to the public late this week or early next week. Proceeds will go to the Rock County United Ways’ Long-term Flood Recovery Fund. Funds will also be channeled to Jefferson County flood victims.
The video will be available at United Way offices and other outlets, including Ace Hardware stores. Other businesses that want to sell the videos are welcome. Sponsors are also being sought to pay production costs so that the flood recovery fund can receive the entire sale price.
For more information, call the United Way of North Rock County, (608) 757-3040 or go to www.uwnrc.org.