He'd be 65 now. With years of public service behind him, he'd probably be long retired, spending his days pottering around the town, or travelling, or minding his grandchildren.
He might well have been sitting in the Aviva Stadium last Saturday, cheering Ireland to victory against Wales, just as, all those years ago, he was always a stalwart supporter of his own school rugby team.
That school was Coleraine Academical Institution, the boys-only school in the same Co Derry town where I attended the all-girls Coleraine High School.
The Inst boys, as they were known, were an endless source of fascination to us in those awakening teenage years, but it was the Inst 'boarders' - especially those a bit older than us - who came with an added patina of glamour.
Although, God knows, there was little that could be considered glamorous about my old friend, JT McCracken. With his awkwardly shy disposition, a slight 'turn' in his eye and his tendency to blush at the slightest bit of attention, JT was a walking advertisement for teenage gaucheness.
But he was the best kind of friend - a shy, loyal and kind young man who would have given you his last shilling and never looked for it back.
We all called him JT. In 'Lost Lives', however, that extraordinary book that tells the stories of all those who died during the Troubles, he is listed as John T McCracken. Protestant. Aged 22. Killed on April 8, 1977.
'Killed' - that's what it says. But let's call a spade a spade. JT, by then a young RUC constable, was murdered on that Good Friday afternoon, his life taken in cold blood on a country road near Moneymore in south Co Derry. Shot dead, according to David Beresford's seminal book 'Ten Men Dead', by well-known Provo Francis Hughes, who was to die himself four years later in the 1981 hunger strikes.
I can still remember as if it was yesterday when the news came through that JT was dead. I couldn't take it in. How could JT just be wiped out like that?
Even my parents remembered him distinctly. "Was it that shy fella with the glasses who used to come to the door looking for you?" my father asked.
I've been thinking a lot about JT these past few days. About those who murdered him. And those who propped up or turned a blind eye to the IRA's campaign of carnage.
For as the General Election results started to come in and the Sinn Féin numbers started to climb, producing poll-topper after poll-topper, I had to consider - as a citizen of this Republic who didn't vote for Sinn Féin - what exactly these results were saying.
It's easy to trot out that old line: "The people have spoken." But the reality is that we live in a democracy, Sinn Féin has some exceptionally able people and, in this instance, that old line happens to be true.
At some point in the evolution of time, history gains a big-picture context. What happened in the past can never be changed. Nor should it ever be forgotten. But nor should we remain stuck in that past, determined to deny the possibility of growth and progress and change.
I lost my friend 43 years ago. He never got to be a husband, father or grandfather. But no amount of intransigent bitterness will bring him back.
For to live like that is to live without hope. And what we must hope for now is that the writer LP Hartley was right - that the past is indeed "a foreign country".
And a place where none of us lives any more.