In Memoriam: Respected and Well-Liked Gamer, John Popiden, Passes Away Suddenly

This has been a very sad winter for the wargaming community.

Dr. John R. Popiden, associate dean of Loyola Marymount University’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and associate professor of theological studies, passed away on Saturday, November 28, of a heart attack. John was only 60 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Jan, and two sons, John Jr. and James. His sudden passing is a tragic loss to his family, and to his many friends, students, and academic colleagues around the country.

John was a familiar fixture in wargaming circles, and a regular attendee at the WBC Convention for many years. However, his interest in military conflict-related issues was more than a recreational past time; it was also his primary focus in the area of religious academic studies. Professor Popiden wrote extensively for scholarly journals about the Catholic perspective on the ethics and morality of war, and on the theological doctrine of the “just war.”

The unexpected death of this respected scholar, devoted family man, and amiable wargamer is a blow to all of us within the gaming community who had the privilege, over the years, of knowing John through his enthusiastic pursuit of our shared hobby. Dr. Popiden — he held a PhD in Theology from Notre Dame — was well-liked and well-respected in gaming circles; he was also a fierce competitor, particularly in the realm of the Avalon Hill classics. In short, John was an amiable and helpful presence at conventions, an accomplished player, and a very tough tournament opponent who, in 2008, won his second WBC AFRIKA KORPS title by beating Bert Schoose in the tournament finals. His unexpected passing is a terrible shock, and he will be sorely missed.

Dr. Popiden will be laid to rest at 11:00 am on December 7th at Sacred Heart Chapel in Los Angeles, CA.

For those who would like to honor John’s memory, Dr. Popiden’s family asks that donations be made to Loyola Marymount University in the name of the John R. Popiden Memorial Fund, c/o Alma Vorst, 1 LMU Drive, Suite 2800, Los Angeles, CA 90045-2659.


  • Joe, thanks for bringing this to my attaention. I had never personally played John, but I was a veteran Afrika Korps player and was frequently in the "grognard room" at the WBC. My most persistent memory of him was of a guy smiling, just like in the picture, except that he would be doing it almost all the time rather than just for a picture. Those are the kind of guys I always enjoy playing: worthy competitors, but also someone who remembers it was a game and it was for fun. I will miss seeing him.

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