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John Gittins died 6/24/2000. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he lived most of his life in Chicago and Houston before moving to Acapulco in 1994.

I first met John in about 1979. He spent many years working with his good friend, James Allen, of James Allen, Inc., a manufacturer of essences, candles, botanical products, gift items, etc.

Together, they built this business from the ground up, starting with a one-bedroom apartment that they used to dry flowers and make various items from them, including their biggest seller, potpourri.

Early on, they got the flowers, mostly roses, from the dumpsters of florists who had to throw them out because they'd outlived their salability.

I was peripherally involved, helping James with programming on an Adam computer using a color TV as a monitor, with tape only, no hard disk. We then moved to the IBM PC platform, and I wrote a lot of code in dBase and Clipper to help out.

Originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, John had worked for the Japanese Consulate in Chicago for 12 years, and spent much of his life engaged in travel and literary pursuits. His voice was very similar to Dick Cavett's.

Some of his passions included a travel, a great taste for fine restaurants, witty intelligent people, and a great appetite for reading.

I can't count the number of brunches, lunches, and dinners we spent together. We traveled to Acapulco together a few times, and I last visited him in Acapulco in April of 2000. At that time he was fit, tan, healthy and very happy with his genteel lifestyle. The house that he'd bought was just lovely, with a pool, and the back garden was set atop high cliffs over Acapulco bay. The view was breathtaking!

All his favorite art objects he'd acquired over the years was there, along with many book cases holding his literary treasures.

The house was as he was -- fastidious, precise, civilized.

He was also a member of our book club (founded in 1989) for a couple of years, and hosted us a couple of times at two of his favorite Italian restaurants.

He always had something new and insightful to bring to the discussions, and was admired for his zest for life, and incisive, sometimes biting wit.

Funeral Blues (by W. H. Auden)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.