John, 68, who lived in Holme-on-Spalding Moor, was born in York and attended Lawrence Street School and York Art College, where he met his wife Jen, who then lived in Wistow.
On leaving college he worked at Rowntrees in York as a graphic designer and designed the wrapper for the firm’s classic Blue Riband wafer and also the clock used on the After Eight Mints box.
He later became studio manager at Humbrol Paints in Hull before joining the Hull City police force and in 1976 joined the North Yorkshire force serving at Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay for nine years.
John served most of his police service in Selby and Tadcaster areas working in the crime prevention department and as a CID officer and a community policeman.
He was an accomplished artist and being well known in the force for producing facial recognition pictures from information provided by witnesses of crimes and during his retirement he was called upon to produce sketches in the Chinese man’s body in the Selby canal murder.
At the time of the Heck rail crash he was family liaison officer and organised the memorial service in Selby Abbey.
He had a big interest in antiques and was a keen rugby union supporter having played the game in York and earlier this year he attended a Six Nations game at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff.
Paying tribute to John a former colleague, former superintendent and division commander at Selby, Jim Boam, said: “John Wardell’s reputation as a police officer, police artist and detective preceded him before we worked together at Selby Police station in 1991. An amazing man with a pencil and given the briefest of information from a witness about individuals could extract facts and produce very professional likeness in a short time that could easily be identified by the people who saw his work.
"John’s ability went beyond North Yorkshire when he spent time in Columbia, South America, where he taught his skills to those who were already accomplished police artists. He also went to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic for a years secondment where his wider craft was recognised and applauded by those fortunate enough to work with him.
“John worked in the crime prevention department at Selby police station going out into the community to talk to school children, old people and any group which needed specialist advice to avoid them becoming crime victims. I replied to numerous letters praising his skills.
“A natural raconteur, it was a pleasure to hear him work with his audience weaving stories that illustrated a point he wished to make about keeping safe. In retirement I understand John spent time in Robin Hoods Bay dressed in a police cape and an old fashioned police helmet doing tours of the village with associated stories that amused and scandalised his audience.
"In short John Wardell was a larger than life character with a wide range of skills that he used to enhance the standing of the police in the community. He was honest, and outgoing, never to be forgotten by those he interacted with, and a great loss and many will smile at the memories of him and greatly regret his passing.”
John, who was a family man was very proud of his grandchildren, leaves a wife, Jen, three sons and seven grandchildren.
A thanksgiving service will be held at Holme-on-Spalding Moor Methodist Chapel next Wednesday, (August 20), at 2.30pm, following a private cremation at York.