Sept. 27, 1927 to Feb. 9, 2007
John Hewitson, passionate teacher, environmentalist, fly fisherman, husband and father, died peacefully at home, with hands held by his daughters, and good friends around his bedside.
Rock solid and true of heart, John instructed to the end how to live well, with deep and unwavering commitment to family, friends, community, and the earth. Born in Los Angeles in 1927, John graduated from South Pasadena-San Marino High School in 1945, entered USC that fall, but withdrew after one year to serve his country with an 18-month tour of duty at Army Camps Beale and Stoneman. After the service, he went back to school and graduated Whittier College in 1951.
It was while student teaching at Whittier that he met his lifelong love Diane Gregory, and married her in June of 1955. To all who knew them, theirs was a true marriage, partnership, and adventure that spanned 48 years.
It would be 1965, after starting his career teaching high school biology in Peris, and expanding his family by two daughters, before John completed his Masters in Biology at Humboldt State College. In 1962, John moved his family to Encinitas where he devoted 26 years to enlightening, empowering and inspiring biology students at San Dieguito High. He was on the cutting edge of field biology with his innovative Biology II class, the inspiration for the AP Environmental Science classes of today. Both students and staff came to know, and to never forget, John Hewitson as an impassioned and dedicated environmentalist, leading sit-ins in the 70s and leading many young people to follow their passion into science and environmental work.
John followed his passion for fly fishing across the globe to New Zealand several times, the first as a Fulbright Scholar in 1960, a newsworthy event. He spent years frequenting local lakes and mountain streams, ‘chasing fish,’ and appreciating the land. Whether collecting insects, painting, hiking, writing, tying flies, or camping with his family in Montana and Wyoming (chasing more fish), he was always learning, always teaching.
After his retirement from San Dieguito High in 1988, John devoted the next 16 years to spending time with, and then caring for, his beloved Diane until her death from Parkinson’s in 2004. He was a loving, caring husband, father, and grandfather, a role he increasingly enjoyed over the past few years, and a true and loyal friend.
His light, love, and brilliance will be terribly missed by his daughters Laurie Rothman and Jennifer Hewitson; sons-in-law Ken Rothman and Bart Denson; grandchildren Sarah and Zoe Rothman, and Gianni and India Denson. We wish they could have known him longer and hope his flame will light within them the same gift of passion.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 24th at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, 890 Balour Drive in Encinitas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John Hewitson’s memory to The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203-1606, or Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 434 West 33rd St., New York, NY 10001.Please sign the guest book at obituaries.uniontrib.com
—San Diego Union-Tribune, published February 18, 2007