John was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Florida, where he graduated from South Broward High School. One winter at Michigan State was enough to convince him he was meant for warmer climate and so he transferred to Rice University in Houston to earn his B.A. in History in 1973.

From there, John went on to receive his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1976 and began practicing law with Wirth, Hancock & Piedfort doing real estate closings. The firm would go on to become Hancock & McGill in 1995, cementing an enduring professional association and lasting friendship with Don Hancock that has seen them practice law together for nearly 40 years.

John and his wife Ann enjoy traveling together, supporting Rice sporting events and contributing their energies to a variety of philanthropic causes.