John Davis Hewitt died peacefully at home under the care of VITAS Healthcare New Smyrna Beach Hospice Service on July 3, 2016 from invasive metastatic bladder cancer. He was born December 18, 1947, in Conneaut, Ohio, on the fourth wedding anniversary of his parents, Clarence and Elizabeth Davis Hewitt.
John grew up in North Conneaut attending Lakeview Elementary where his mom was his third grade teacher and later graduating from Conneaut High School in 1966. After high school he enrolled in Kent State University majoring in finance and business administration. His education was interrupted by his draft notice. During the Vietnam War he served as a Chaplin’s Assistant to Monsignor Donald W. Shea who later became Major General Shea. He and Father Shea remained in contact following the war. Those of you who knew John well will find no small bit of irony in this assignment. John was nominated for the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in a combat zone by Father Shea.
After his discharge from the Army he returned to Kent State under the GI Bill earning a degree in finance. He worked for several companies in Ohio before marrying Laurie Duncan and moving to Atlanta in 1982. It was during this time that the demons which came back from Vietnam with him and many other servicemen and women took an upper hand. Unfortunately, their marriage was a casualty of those demons. He sought help in an attempt to regain control over the demons but the demons won. For many years he traveled throughout the East Coast doing whatever caught his fancy including deep sea fishing, roofing, truck driving, building and just wandering. To the amazement of his nephews, he also grew a large crop of marijuana during his deep sea fishing days. It was during this time that he just disappeared from the family.
Nearly 20 years later he married Joanie Abbruzzese in Myrtle Beach. Joanie was a no-nonsense, outspoken woman who finally convinced him to put his education to use. For many years he worked for ABC Supply Co., Inc. in Myrtle Beach, SC and later facilitated the opening of their store in Pompano Beach, Florida. Thankfully she was also successful in having him reach out to his family after nearly ten years. Although we didn’t know the man the army sent back from Vietnam, we learned to love him just the same.
He was preceded in death by his wife Joanie whom he cared for at home with the help of Heartland Hospice. After Joanie died, John moved to Edgewater, Florida in 2015 to be closer to his sister. John was a naturalist and cared greatly about the environment. He was training for a 100-mile bike ride when he became ill. During his only winter in Edgewater he built a strip kayak in his garage. Fortunately, he was able to sail his kayak numerous times before he became too ill.
He is survived by his sister, Carol Hewitt Wilt (John McGuire) of The Villages, Florida; his name-sake John (JJ) Wilt (Deidre Reminder) of Geneva Ohio; Roger Wilt (Jessi) and his great-nephew Hewitt of Geneva, Ohio; and his first wife Laurie Duncan of Estes Park, Colorado.
Private services will be held at Veterans Memorial Park in Edgewater.
Contributions to John’s memory can be made to The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, 4915 Saint Elmo Avenue, Suite 202, Bethesda, MD 20814.
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” From an Irish headstone