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John Gregory Scott, a people magnet

January 3, 2018

John Gregory Scott left us Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2017, surrounded by his loving spouse of 26 years, Barry Dunkin, close friends, and his canine companion Cassidy. His departure reflected his life philosophy of intentional and joyful celebration. His final wish was to die at home amidst the warmth and magic of the Season. For one week, he welcomed friends from near and far with hugs, a loving smile, and toward the end, a gentle, silent wisdom. He was born in Norristown, Pa., with lineage to the Rittenhouse family and Winfield Scott (his great-great-grandfather), one of America's distinguished military leaders.

The majority of his life was lived in Baltimore, Md., and his later years in Lewes. Greg graduated in 1970 from the Maryland Institute College of Art prepared for his life career in advertising, marketing and design. His professional leadership led the American company, London Fog, to gain the third-largest brand recognition in the world. He traveled internationally to produce photo shoots and videos that were cutting edge for the time. Whether he was filming in Alaska or appearing with Bruce Jenner in the Macy's Day Parade, he was at his best when juxtaposing his art with the science of design. Greg completed a memoir of his career that will be published in 2018.

His professional skills flowed over into his private life, and it was not uncommon for him to create non-typical home movies as gifts for friends - with edits and music that captured his sense of humor and irony. One such video - Girls at the Beach - portrayed his and a friend's dog with sunglasses looking out at the water. One of his colleagues, the actress Stephanie Powers, sent him a dog - by limo - that he adopted, of course. Greg surprised Barry on his 50th birthday with a West Wing-themed party that included a limo (used by Lyndon Baines Johnson), and Secret Service actors who interrupted an intimate dinner between Barry and his Mother. They were swept away in the limousine to a glorious surprise party. The theme honored Barry's real-life role in the TV show West Wing.

Greg was a "people magnet and always had a positive view of life," said Candy Hammer, his friend of 45 years. She shared his remarkable response after a diagnosis of bone cancer, and being told he had a 20 percent chance of survival: "Wow, not so bad, I have a one in five chance of making it - I can do it." And he did. Or in 1985 when he was diagnosed HIV positive, and told he had three months to live. He went on his photo shoot to Alaska anyway and never looked back.

His optimism was contagious, and his love for life and friends sustained him during many years of challenging health issues. Never once did he complain. His friend Jackie Tatham shared how they drove to Cape Henlopen State Park in his sports car one January for lunch and got a flat tire. She said out of nowhere park rangers showed up and fixed the tire, and they proceeded to the beach. Three months after a stroke in 2014, Greg and Barry ventured on a two-week Baltic Sea cruise. Heather Block remembered cruising the Canal de Midi in southern France where they passed through 65 locks over the course of 10 days with Greg as captain. Another trip, in May 2016, Greg and Barry made a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, and despite Greg's need for a walker and wheelchair, they went on to Prague.

Ten days before he died, Greg texted friends reminding them to "take care of Barry." He had all his Christmas shopping done and wrapped and under the tree thanks to the help of dear friends. His final production was like his life, spontaneous, engaging, and full of compassion for those of us lucky enough to have known him.

Greg was predeceased by his parents and his brother. He is survived by his adoring spouse, Barry Dunkin; and niece Michelle Burns, family and friends. A special thank you to his lifelong friends Candy Hammer, Jackie and Bill Tatham, Angie Heon and Heather Block for their care and love. Their attention to him made his legacy of love and dignity possible. Thank you to the staff of the Griswold Home Care and Delaware Hospice for their loving care and service.

St. John of the Cross wrote that in the evening of life we are judged only on love. And so goes our dear John Gregory Scott.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Lewes, and will be announced at a later date. Arrangements by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes.

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation to one of the following charities: The Foundation for AIDS Research, 1100 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005 (www.amfar.org/donate), The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163-4777 (www.michaeljfox.org), or Lewes Canalfront Park Endowment Campaign, PO Box 110, Lewes, DE 19958 (www.lewescanalfrontpark.org/about-friends).

Please visit Greg's Life Memorial webpage and sign his online guestbook at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.

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