John Griffith Symons passed peacefully on March 13, 2013; he was 101. John was born in Chicago, Ill. on Sept. 16, 1911. He graduated from University of Illinois, served in the Navy during WWII and was married for fifty years to Edith Maude (Rice) Symons.
John Symons was a man who made things happen. He had a first career, spanning 30 years, as head of a successful family manufacturing business that he grew into a multinational corporation. John’s love of plants and gardening led him to start an encore career developing apple orchards. This expanded into a greenhouse operation that employed families in a small rural community. A distinguished man, John believed in hard work and generosity. He helped University of Wisconsin build a recreational complex, school dormitories for exchange students, and sponsored many students’ education. He also built a community shelter for victims of domestic violence and was a key player in various community projects.
In 2007, at the age of 96, following an unexpected illness, he moved from central Wisconsin to Orcas Island to live near his son. While on Orcas, John was a regular at the Senior Center lunches. Even as a very senior citizen, he embraced the day living fully. During his last years, John attended Community Church services and was often seen on sunny days being wheeled around Eastsound by his devoted caregivers. His home was full of flowers – he was a testament to living a full, healthy, generous, caring life.
He is survived by his son and daughter Joe and Molly Symons, his three grandchildren, Johnny, Amy, and Will, and four great grandchildren.