John Alexander Withrow
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July 23, 1948 - September 13, 2013
John was born in Arlington, VA and grew up in the Western U.S. He attended middle and high school in Ogden, Utah where he earned the Eagle Scout award.
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971, he served three tours in Vietnam. John left the Navy in 1976 to join the U.S. NOAA Corps. as a scientist/officer serving on several research ships based in Seattle, WA. During this time, he completed a Masters in Ocean Engineering at the University of Washington. His ships worked off the western coast of the U.S. and South America.
In 1985, the NOAA Corps. secunded John to UNESCO in Paris, France as a member of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. He served as a scientist and diplomat working with many nations in developing ocean policies.
In 1988, John was assigned to the U.S. Coastal Ocean office in Washington, D.C. before returning in 1991 to UNESCO in Paris for seven more years. After retiring from the NOAA Corps, John worked for Anteon and General Dynamics in Northern Virginia after becoming certified in several computer systems. While designing logistical platforms for the U.S. military, he made several trips to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Eight years later, he moved with his wife to North Carolina to be near his daughter's family. He joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and volunteered at the Raleigh recruiting office of the U.S. Coast Guard. He also served as a staff officer with a special interest in ridding NC waters of hazardous plant and animal species.
John thoroughly enjoyed golfing, spending time with his children and granddaughters, and bird watching.
He fought pulmonary fibrosis for two years with the help of a dedicated team of doctors at Duke Clinic and Hospital. Meribeth, his wife and partner, Amy and Eric his children, Trevor and Christine, his son and daughter-in-law, and granddaughters Emily and Allison were gifted by the love of this gentle man of great conviction and character.
A service of celebration for John will be held at the Kirk of Kildare Presbyterian Church of Cary on September 28th at 2 p.m.
Memorial gifts will be given to the Duke University Medical Center Lung Research Program. They can be sent to the family.
Published in The News & Observer on Sept. 18, 2013