On March 31, 2020, John Gray Ginnes, sea captain, motocross racer, assistant director, master packer, sushi lover, and devoted husband, father and grandpa, passed away at age 77 at home surrounded by love and family.
John was born in New York City on October 19, 1942 and grew up in Greenwich Village. While a lifelong New Yorker at heart, he ultimately transplanted to the West Coast – first to Los Angeles in 1989, and then to beautiful Orcas Island, Washington in July 2000.
John’s career began and ended in the film industry. His production work ranged from countless television commercials, TV programs like The Patty Duke Show and Naked City, to feature films such as The Reivers, Bullitt, Medium Cool, and When We Were Kings. His exacting eye, his ability to connect with people comfortably, and his steadfast devotion to his craft led to a challenging, joyful, and commendable career. John was in his element while on set, and never hesitated to share his knowledge and experience with others as both a mentor and collaborator. He always had a camera in his hand, often pulling over to the side of the road to capture that cool or elusive shot no one else noticed.
John had a passion for fast cars, motorcycles and boats. Starting from when he was a teenager, “borrowing” and repairing, and then buying and restoring 58 cars and numerous motorcycles, his favorite was his 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport. In his twenties, he raced motocross with Steve McQueen and in later years, took his family for rides on his cherry red Ducati. But of all his loves, his soul knew it belonged on the water. He had an undeniable comfort with the ocean, getting his sea captain’s license in 1988. Some of his happiest days were on his boat Pursuing, sails aloft and full, with the wind at his back. He carried the sea in his heart and was renewed by the peace and beauty of life on the water.
John is survived by Leslie, his wife of 35 years; his eldest daughter Deborah Self and husband Dan, and youngest daughter Kate Ginnes Wigton and husband Andrew; his beloved grandchildren Aidan, Grace, Bella, Oliver Gray and Charlee; his brother David Ginsberg and his wife Yvonne. They all will greatly miss his quiet confidence and calming presence.
John was not a big fan of formality, finally acquiescing to wearing Cole Haans, with of course a turquoise sole, rather than sneakers with his suit to his youngest daughter Kate’s wedding (Deb had no such luck!). He enjoyed good food, good drink and good company. So, until we may be together to have the party he wanted, please raise a glass and drink to a life well-lived, filled with adventure and love, friendship and family. If you wish to do more to honor John’s memory, the family suggests donations to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Ste 1509, New York, NY 10018, https://www.parkinson.org/ways-to-give.