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DeWitt H. John

Date of Death: October 6, 2020

Date of Birth: December 16, 1942


DeWitt H. John, 77, of Brunswick, Maine passed away peacefully Oct. 6, 2020. DeWitt was born December 16, 1942 in Duluth, Minnesota to DeWitt H. John, Sr. and Morley Marshall John, and grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

From publishing a neighborhood newspaper as a child, to his last job teaching at Bowdoin College, writing, reading and teaching formed the foundation of DeWitt's career. He had a generous spirit and loved to explore ideas with others.

After graduating from Harvard in 1964, DeWitt moved to Birmingham, Alabama to teach economics at Miles College. He ended his career at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he became Director of Environmental Studies in 2000, and where he continued to teach classes on environmental policy until his retirement in 2014. DeWitt was on the boards of several regional environmental organizations, including the Conservation Law Foundation. A Bowdoin tribute to DeWitt can be found at

DeWitt's mid-career life was filled with research, policy development, and consulting on a variety of topics. While studying at the London School of Economics he wrote his first book, a study of Indian workers associations in Britain. He then settled in Colorado to work for the Denver Research Institute, and then to direct the Colorado Governor's Office of Policy Research.

In 1985 DeWitt moved to Washington, DC, where he worked at the National Governors Association and the National Academy of Public  Administration (NAPA), becoming a NAPA fellow in 2001. A favorite T-shirt from that period: "States are not branch offices of the federal government." He received his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1992. His thesis was published as the book _Civic Environmentalism, a study of building stakeholder alliances to solve environmental problems. DeWitt was a devoted father and husband. He met his wife, Jane Trimm Greeley, in Colorado. Children Seth and Elizabeth were born in Denver, and family life included expeditions into the Rocky Mountains and camping with friends in Sand Dunes National Park.

After moving to Washington DC, DeWitt paddled the Potomac River, cooked traditional Indian dishes, and sang with Mosaic Harmony Choir - "committed to the belief that gospel music can create a community of interfaith and interracial harmony and diversity". In retirement DeWitt's  activities included running, learning tennis, and working in the woods trimming trees and collecting firewood. But his favorite activity was always getting down on the floor to play games with visiting granddaughters. Never one to sit still for long, DeWitt leaves behind many outdoor memories with his family and friends. He loved to share his special love of canoeing a river, kayaking the bays and lakes of Maine, or climbing a hill to look out across the land together.

The family thanks the caring staff at Avita of Brunswick, a memory care community where DeWitt spent much of his last year. He had an easy smile
for the staff there and he often led lively dining table discussions. And we appreciate the staff at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House who made DeWitt's last days calm and reassuring for all of us. 

DeWitt is survived by his wife Jane Greeley John; his son Seth Greeley John and daughter-in-law Dre Ryan of California, and their girls Cecilia
and Celeste; his daughter Elizabeth Morley Beckman and son-in-law James Beckman of Colorado, and their girls Eleanor and Ardith; his sister
Jennifer; brothers-in-law Carl Jacob and Bill; niece Morley, and nephews Carl DeWitt, Andrew, and Hugo.

A virtual celebration of DeWitt's life will take place online Nov. 7, at 1:00PM EST - contact the family for details. A graveside service will be

Donations can be made to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program ( [1]) where DeWitt helped deliver diapers several
summers with help from granddaughters, your local food bank, or the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust - ( "connecting
people to land."  

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