Cover photo for John Richard Brittingham's Obituary
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1950 John 2023

John Richard Brittingham

October 15, 1950 — June 3, 2023

Locust Grove, VA

John Richard Brittingham, husband to Sheryl Brittingham, father to John Prentiss Brittingham, Christopher Prentiss Brittingham, Jessica Sanders Brittingham, and Michael Sanders Brittingham, Popi to Rowan Desautels, Harper Thibodeau, Christopher Brittingham, Matthew Brittingham, Zachary Brittingham, the twins-Charlee and Toby Brittingham, son to Janet Fichter, and brother to Bunny Christopher, passed away on Saturday, June 3, 2023. He was surrounded by family in his final weeks and passed away knowing he was loved.

During his lifetime, John pursued a career in Food Science. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Tech in 1973 and earned a Master of Science in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech in 1977. His Master's thesis is one of his proudest accomplishments; his research focused on the connection between fiber and colon cancer, and his findings advanced cancer research. He earned an MBA from Indiana University to complete his education.

John was an avid spelunker and spent an incredible amount of time underground (possibly close to 3,000 hours). He caved in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, exploring and mapping for the National Speleological Society. John was mapping a cave in West Virginia with Barb Prentiss (his first wife and lifelong friend) the weekend that Squeaky Fromme tried to assassinate President Ford in 1975. They spent three nights camping underground oblivious to the events above ground, only to emerge smelling like the methane they used to light their hard hats. Family stories of the event include the waitress who plugged her nose while they were in the restaurant after they emerged from the cave.

John also enjoyed skiing (he learned in Switzerland in 1977), hiking, camping, sailing, and music. John played the electric bass and was in a band in the late 60s and early 70s. His band once opened for The Yardbirds.

A family favorite story involves John being in Washington state on business in 1980 on the day Mount St. Helens erupted. He was stuck in Washington due to the disaster and often told stories about how the hotel ran out of booze that night. Jessica has fond memories of her college Geology class and her Dad telling her this story for the first time while watching Dante's Peak for a class assignment. 

John's career in the food sciences took him many places, including Orange County, California, where he shared his love of sailing off of Dana Point with his family. During one such trip, he achieved the herculean task of routinely mooring and unmooring a 36 foot skiff compley under sail. While sailing, John introduced his family to the Pacific ocean's wildlife, beaches, and the allure of life on the water. On days when he wasn't sailing, he enjoyed motorcycling through the countryside and frequenting the Orange County Performing Arts center. All these events would lead to lasting impressions that would ultimately shape both his oldest son's paths in life.

In a family story that will eventually become a novel, John met Sheryl Sanders in California in 1996. In a funny family story, John's first wife, plus the then dating John and Jess, meddled in both lives and managed to get the two to meet. John and Sheryl were married in 2003 and spent more than two decades unifying a beautiful blended family. John and Sheryl spent many beautiful years together enjoying Sherlock Holmes, becoming Trivial Pursuit legends, following major league baseball, rescuing greyhounds, and immersing themselves in antiques, history, and music. Touring battlefields and historical sites, often with the kids and grandkids, provided the backdrop for many family memories. John and Sheryl loved sampling exceptional cuisine among all things, and John referred to Sheryl as "my bride" until his dying day.

The family moved from California to Virginia 1998, where they lived for more than twenty years. John adopted Sheryl's two children, Jessica and Michael, in 2008 and taught them both what it meant to have a father in their lifetimes.

In 2007, John became a grandfather and assumed the new identity of Popi. He spent a great deal of time in Massachusetts with Jessica and her two daughters, Rowan and Harper. He was fortunate to spend time in California and later in Massachusetts with his son John and his three grandsons, Christopher, Matthew, and Zachary. He was most proud of being Popi, and left his granddaughter Harper (whom he affectionately called Harpster) with the parting words, "Stay Curious" just before he died.

John was a lover of ice cream sandwiches, Klondike bars, breakfast sandwiches, Krispy Kreme donuts, and bourbon. He loved the Indy 500 and the Boston Red Sox. There are many family memories associated with all of these things, especially the bourbon.

He spent his final months in Charleston, South Carolina, with his son Christopher and his wife Mackenzie, whom he often referred to as the most authentic and hilarious human being he had ever met. John was proud to celebrate Chris being pinned as Master Chief in the US Coast Guard in May 2023, only a month before his passing. 

He leaves behind a grieving family who is eternally grateful for the eleven years of extra time medical miracles allowed them to have.

Services are scheduled at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. - 351 Elm Street Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Reception to follow from 1-5 p.m. at Cork Wine & Tapas  - 90 Front Street New Bedford, Massachusetts

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to GPA-Greyhound Pets of America http://www.greyhoundpets.org/ 
To order memorial trees in memory of John Richard Brittingham, please visit our tree store.

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