John “JACK” Cantin: November 15, 2000 – January 9, 2018

By Montecito Journal   |   March 8, 2018

Jack Cantin, 17, of Montecito, California, is presumed dead after being missing since the Montecito mudslides, which occurred January 9, 2018. His mother, Kimberly Cantin, and his sister, Lauren Cantin, were injured in the mudslides in which his father, David Cantin, 49, and his dog, Chester the Irish Setter, were killed. 

Jack was born in Oceanside, California, on November 15, 2000, and spent his first four years in Carlsbad, California. During this time, he lived just a few streets away from his grandparents and enjoyed each Friday at Grandma and Grandpa’s, where they would explore neighborhood parks and playgrounds. At this early age, Jack would be seen wearing superhero capes and dressing up as Superman® for Halloween. He then moved with his family to Mason, Ohio, spending his next five years in the Midwest. Running in open yards of grass and sledding down the hill in the snow near the back of his house were his favorite pastimes. It was in Ohio where Jack first joined the Boy Scouts.

In 2010, Jack and his family relocated to Santa Barbara, California, where Jack became a “California kid” again. He attended Montecito Union School. At MUS, Jack had happy times with his new friends, school, carnivals, and the sixth grade play. Jack played the father of Veruca Salt in the play Willy Wonka. A highlight of his time at Montecito Union was the 5th-grade trip to Washington, D.C. His teachers said he brought his warm smile and wide open-mouthed laughter to the classroom; Jack was kind and loved to make people laugh. He was active in the Boy Scouts, MUS Chorus, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and he also played soccer and baseball. 

After MUS, Jack attended Santa Barbara Middle School. Jack thoroughly enjoyed his time at this school, be it in the classroom, on the school biking trips, on hikes, or embracing the Channel Island trip boat trip. By age 15, Jack had biked more than 1,000 miles with the people at this school, exploring California, Oregon, and Arizona. Inspired by adventure, Jack biked 300 miles from Umbria to Rome, Italy, in the summer after his 7th grade. He then joined his dad in Rome, where they both visited the Vatican. Jack embraced the school philosophy of carpe diem. The deep friendships he made and the self-assuredness he developed at this school were very meaningful to Jack.

Jack was excited to attend to Santa Barbara High School, where he was a student in the Multi-Media Arts & Design (MAD) Academy. In his first year at the school, he was the student who wore his green “Santa Barbara Don’s” hoodie with pride. It was at SBHS that Jack looked forward to attending the football games and grabbing lunch with his friends. 

A quote Jack selected that had the most meaning to him is from the Dalai Lama: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And, if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Jack lived this sentiment fully.

To help others, Jack’s Eagle Scout project was to refurbish the basketball and playground area of Cleveland Elementary. He also was a volunteer at Safety Town during the summers teaching young children, road and bus safety. Jack co-founded Teens on the Scene, a teen-led community service and leadership group in Santa Barbara. This group would volunteer once a month in the community, either at beach or city cleanups, serving food to the homeless, working at the Unity Shoppe or the Foodbank or at the Humane Society. Teens on the Scene is now in more than four local high schools, two middle schools, and has more than 100 teen volunteer members. In 2016, Jack and his group were awarded the “Spirit of Service Award – Clean Community” by the City of Santa Barbara. Jack was a regular volunteer at the Montecito Beautification Day, the Montecito Annual 4th of July parade and picnics. At school, he volunteered as an intern with the IRS to help prepare tax returns for those in need.

Jack was active in the Boy Scouts and earned its highest rank, the Eagle Scout Award, in 9th grade. He continued with the troop and earned his “Eagle with Palms.” With his father as Scoutmaster, Jack experienced many back-country hiking and camping trips with the troop, as well as fun summer camps. At Emerald Bay, Catalina Island, he learned how to scuba dive and performed his first dive with his father.

An avid gamer, Jack built his own computer and in one online game, he led a team of 4,000 players. He also travelled with several friends to Major League Gaming events in Ohio and Oakland.

Intellectually curious, Jack attended the UCSB Science and Engineering Research Academy (SERA) this past summer. Just prior to the tragic mudslides, Jack was invited to the National Leadership Conference and was eager to attend University of California Berkeley in the summer to take the Business and Entrepreneur Program. 

Jack will be remembered for his kindness, sense of humor, genuineness, and his ability to inspire others. He was dearly loved by his family and friends. In a humble manner, Jack wanted to make a positive difference. He was a loving and cherished son, grandson, and an adoring brother to his sister, Lauren.

Jack is survived by his mother Kimberly Irene (Miller) Cantin and his sister, Lauren Elizabeth Cantin. Jack was the son of Kimberly and David Cantin. Additionally, Jack is survived by his grandparents, Willard and Anita Miller of Niagara Falls, Canada; his grandfather and his wife, Richard and Marie Cantin of North Carolina; his grandmother, Kathleen Cantin of Rhode Island; his aunt, uncle, and cousins of Berlin, Germany, Pamela, Ronald, Daniel, and Caterina Neumann, and many other great aunts, uncles.

Jack’s memorial service will be held at 10 am, Saturday, March 17, at the Santa Barbara Mission located at 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA. If you plan to attend, please wear one of Jack’s favorite colors – blue, orange, and purple. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donations to the Santa Barbara Foodbank. 


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