John Cough with his airplane in the hanger

Photo Credit: Gavin Sauder at Smoketown Airport

Living with Grace and Balance

By Cathie Cush on October 29, 2017 - 12:00pm | Garden Spot Village | Live With Purpose

John Clough learned how to work growing up at Shiloh, a religious community in New York State’s snow belt, that was one of the pioneers of the organic farming movement in the 1950s. When he and his wife, Ruth, moved to Garden Spot Village in 2010 John was putting in seven days a week running his company, Garden Spot Distributors, a supplier of natural, organic, gluten-free packaged products. In January of 2017, he sold the company. Under an agreement with the new owners, he’ll continue to work there for a year.

“I’m supposed to work less than 20 hours a week, but I’m here more than that,” Clough says. But today, instead of being “chief cook and bottle washer,” he says, “I am the go-fer — the maintenance man, the substitute truck driver, the pilot for the plane.”

He loves the new role. “I am helping people be successful. I am not in charge anymore,” he says. He has also stepped down from his role as chairman at Lighthouse Vocational Services, although he remains active on the board, helping newer members learn the ropes.

“The right attitude is everything,” he says about adjusting to these transitional roles, which give him more time to spend with Ruth and doing service. “I have been preparing and practicing for years.”

Working to save lives

When he’s not running to the bank or post office or otherwise helping out at the food distributor, John is helping out in other ways. Once a week he’s in his Mooney Ovation flying missions of mercy for Angel Flight, a national organization that provides free transportation to medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or organ transplantation. He has flown patients and caregivers for treatment at Shriners Hospital in Boston, Sloan-Kettering in New York, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and others. If the trip is particularly long — like from Miami to Boston — he might provide transport for one leg of the journey. Now that he is no longer responsible for operations at Garden Spot Distributors, he is free to devote more time to Angel Flight.

“I start every trip with a prayer,” he says. During the flight, he doesn’t pry about his passengers’ private lives, but keeps it professional. “At the end of the trip, I get a hug.”

John answers the phone with, “How can I serve you better?” and he means it. This summer, he went on his third mission trip to Honduras with other residents and staff from Garden Spot Village, where he worked on wiring a conference center.

“See how much fun I’m having with that,” he said before the trip. “I always come back a different man—with a realization of what we have here in the United States. We don’t understand it until we see the other side of the world.”

Whether he is flying a patient on a mission of mercy, worshiping with the people of Honduras or running errands for his fellow workers, John is always trying to find ways to learn and improve and to use what the Lord has given him to help others.



Pilot John Clough sitting in his airplane
Pilot John Clough standing next to his airplane


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Cathie Cush
| Writer at
C2 Communications
Over the years Cathie has had the opportunity to interview many, many people who call Garden Spot Communities “home.” In every case, she has come away from the encounter inspired, uplifted and deeply moved by the richness of the lives they lead and the warmth and openness they extend to others. Sharing their stories is a privilege.

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Over the years Cathie has had the opportunity to interview many, many people who call Garden Spot Communities “home.” In every case, she has come away from the encounter inspired, uplifted and deeply moved by the richness of the lives they lead and the warmth and openness they extend to others. Sharing their stories is a privilege.

Follow Them Online: