RIP John Machiaverna of the Boys’ & Girls’ Club

Our hearts are at half-mast this week for one of Anaheim’s beloved greats who passed away from cancer on Wednesday – Boys’ and Girls’ Club founder and CEO John “JMac” Machiaverna.  The Club released this statement yesterday morning:

It is with overwhelming sadness that we must deliver the news that John Machiaverna – or as most of us knew him – CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Anaheim-Cypress, passed away on Wednesday April 28, 2021.

JMac was a founding Board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Anaheim, where he served 11 years as President of the Board prior to accepting the CEO role for the organization in 2015.

John also owned and operated JMac Jewelers in downtown Anaheim for more than 30 years, and was extremely active in the community including his service on the City of Anaheim’s Public Utility Board..

Throughout recent months, John fought hard after being diagnosed with cancer.  Yet during this time, in typical JMac fashion, with his Superhero attitude and his signature solid gold and diamond B&G necklace, he continued his relentless leadership drive to successfully and safely re-open our Clubs’ operations for the kids that we serve, as well as delivering weekly food distributions to the community. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Machiaverna family as we thank JMac for his many years of tremendous dedication and service to the Club and the community.  God bless our great friend!

My wife Donna Acevedo-Nelson, who doesn’t trust people very easily, was always impressed with John’s sincerity and enthusiasm when he’d give presentations to the Community Services Board she served on.  One of his many projects at that time was helping low-income kids get scholarships to St. Catherine’s.  She could tell that he really cared about Anaheim’s children and neighborhoods, and thought that he should have run for Mayor in 2018.

Which he was planning to do, until THIS happened (JMac told this story to Robert Nelson and Jose Moreno, and it rings true.)  He had a good chance winning as a Republican with the stellar work he’d done in the community, but he would have defeated Harry Sidhu, who was the favored candidate of Disney and the Angels.  So they had a little visit with him and let him know that their support of the Boys & Girls Club might be “in jeopardy” if he continued in the race.  (That’s the kind of town we live in.)  So JMac chose the Clubs; otherwise he might have been our Mayor the last few years.

Local developer Bill Taormina knew JMac well, for at least twenty years.  That’s back when they met together with Fire Chief Jeff Bowman to figure out where to locate a new Boys & Girls Club for Anaheim.  At the time, JMac ran his jewelry store at Anaheim Plaza which was on Euclid.  They decided, with Bill’s help, to set up some used trailers on the Center Street Promenade right near City Hall.  JMac wanted to name that location after Bill, but Bill insisted on naming it instead after his father Cosmo.  Disney helped renovate those trailers, and JMac ended up spending so much time getting the Club started that he decided to move his Jeweler’s right across the street (where it still stands) so he could go back and forth more easily.

With wife Holly

From this location, JMac organized after-school activities for countless underprivileged Anaheim children, and also arranged free spaghetti meals from The White House’s Bruno Seratto.  Bill had never seen anyone so dedicated, and the Clubs quickly expanded to 4 more Anaheim locations, as well as one in Cypress.  During his last year of cancer and chemo, JMac kept up his busy schedule and never showed his suffering; many people had no idea about his medical problems.  Bill says that if there was “one last guy on earth” he would want to spend his time with, it would have been JMac.

Denise Barnes got to know him, and worked with him a lot during the past year of his life.  When she was first elected onto Council he sent her a dozen long-stemmed roses, a surprise she never forgot.  Later, she and her husband Scott sat together with JMac and his wife Holly at a dinner for the Muzeo, and they had so much fun that soon they were inseparable.  They worked together tirelessly during the year of Covid, providing food to Anaheim’s underprivileged neighborhoods.

Denise said she was the “jolliest” man she ever knew – he “exuded a zest for life,” especially when interacting with children.  “Nothing could rock his boat.”

When someone great dies, I think we need to ponder what they contributed to this world, and try to pick up the slack somehow. 

(Whoever else has John Machiaverna stories and memories, please either add them in the comments or e-mail them to so we can add them to this story.)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.