John F. Witherspoon, Southold native and “man about town,” passed away during the early hours of Thursday, Jan. 14, surrounded by family and friends. He was 58.
Those who knew John, which was nearly everyone, remember him as a charismatic man who always had a kind word or a spare smoke for those in need.
Born May 2, 1957, to Antonia Booth and Robert Witherspoon of Southold, John attended Southold High School and graduated in 1975. As a young man, John was always the “cool kid.” On warm summer evenings in 1975 neighbors could hear the twangy sounds of The Steve Miller Band all the way down at McCabe’s Beach when John, rocking a pair of aviators and a David Cassidy haircut, threw a late-night party at the cabana.
John’s tenure as Southold High School class president in the late ’70s was described by classmates as “groovy” and “far out.” The student commons has never looked as good as it did during the Witherspoon administration.
John attended Tusculum College in Tennessee and returned home not with a degree in pre-law, but a chestnut foal named Mildred. Mildred, a celebrity in her own right, never minded sharing the spotlight, providing John always remembered who had top billing.
Many remember John as the friendly face behind the bar at the Galley Ho. Or the Elbow Room. Or Claudio’s. Or Townsend Manor Inn.
John loved Parliaments, trips to The Candy Man, and considered himself a cuckoo clock connoisseur. Despite possessing upwards of 11 clocks, he was rarely on time.
In his later years, he took great pleasure in doling out words of wisdom to whomever he happened to meet in the parking lot of the IGA. Trips to pick up milk could take several hours.
John loved to “keep it simple,” and often advised others to do the same.
John was predeceased by several chickens and his horse, Mildred. He is survived by his daughter, Addy Rose; his mother, Antonia Booth; seven brothers and sisters; Rascal the dog; and Goose the goose.
The family will receive visitors Friday, Jan. 22, from 2 to 6 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold. A Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at St. Patrick R.C. Church in Southold, Father Peter Garry and Father Kenneth Hand officiating.
This is a paid notice.