By Roy Roberts
John Tyler was a guest at our home many times when he was a child. He has given over $80,000 to charity in the last ten years. John Tyler is a third cousin of our children, but to go back farther, his great-great-grandfather was John Looman who came to America from Holland when he was three years old. He grew up in Beardstown and fought three years with General Grant and General Sherman in the Civil War, being wounded at the start of the Battle of Atlanta. His grandfather was Carl Looman, who ran an appliance store across the street from the State Bank at State and Second Street. Both of those men would be proud of John Tyler, and pleased with the talent that he has accomplished under the most adverse conditions.
John Tyler Dossett is the son of Terry and Martha (Muffy) Dossett. John was born in 1974 with Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome or LND Disease, that includes cerebral palsy-like quadriplegia. The disease causes John’s uric acid levels to rise unchecked, destroying his kidneys, causing a muscular palsy - and a host of other symptoms. One of the worst symptoms of John’s disease is the overwhelming urge to self-injure. He has had his teeth removed and has been confined in a wheel chair from the very beginning of his life. He cannot feed, dress nor groom himself.
John has been in a special school since he was one year old; it was later when he was a student at Lewis and Clark Community College in Goodfrey, where he enrolled in a developmentally-disabled program. There was drama, art, music, science and history, and it was in this college program that he discovered painting. He wanted to do it at home and his dad, who is an art instructor and a painter himself, provided him with all the material he needed.
John is very independent, and refuses to let his personal aide or any others help him paint. He chooses the size and prepares his canvasses, chooses his colors and goes at it with an amazing talent of blending colors. His art is representational as well as abstract interpretations of the world’s beauty in color; it is inspirational, and as he describes them, they are expressionist. In the past eight years he has sold his paintings at auction and at personal art shows for thousands. He gives it all to charity and has given over $80,000 to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and to the American Cancer Society through Relay For Life. John says, “I want to help people with cancer or who have friends and family with cancer.”
His purpose came late in the 37-year-old’s life, but it’s not the first time he’s beaten the odds. His parents said he was only expected to live about 18
years when he was diagnosed with the enzyme-deficient genetic disorder.
The owners of his works include former Major League Baseball manager Tony La Russa and slugger Albert Pujols. The reason John was able to meet the Cardinals was on Camera Day, those in wheel chairs were able to go onto the field to meet the players.
His Dad says that John has done over 300 paintings and some take weeks and others less than a day. He gives each of his paintings a name.
John is making people happy, he is making himself happy, and says, “I paint, with God’s help, to help people with cancer.”