LAKELAND - John Richard Gaines, 68, was born in Lakeland to Doris Freeman Gaines and George Livingston Gaines on September 23, 1945 and passed away on February 25, 2014 due to colon cancer.
He was predeceased by his mother, father and older brother Walter Douglas Gaines. He is survived by his wife Suzanne Brown Gaines and his son Aaron Travis Gaines and a multitude of nieces, nephews, god children and family.
"Dick", as he was known to us, is a Lakeland native. Graduated from Lakeland Senior High School in 1963 and attended The University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. He enlisted in the Navy in 1965 and was in the nuclear submarine service during Vietnam and the Cold War years. He achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He made this statement about his life, "There are two things I am most proud of: my service to my country and most importantly my marriage to Suzanne." He and Suzanne were married July 22, 1982 and they worked together at George L. Gaines Jeweler, his family's business. His brilliant mind was the force behind George L. Gaines Jeweler moving forward.
His primary activity and focus, outside of work, was his service to All Saints' Episcopal Church. He served in many capacities at All Saints' to include Lay Eucharistic Minister beginning in 1993, was Master of Ceremonies of many major services and All Saints' first Verger. He assisted in many other ministries, applying his talents wherever needed. One of his loves at All Saints' was conducting Stations of the Cross every Lenten season for the last 19 years. He retired from his church work in 2005 due to his illness.
He was very community minded, especially where the humanities were concerned, for instance the Polk Museum of Art, The Imperial Symphony Orchestra and the Polk Theatre. He had a great love of the outdoors, nature, gardening, and being with his family. One of his great loves was his Grady White, "Sugar" and being on the Gulf boating. His work encompassed all of the things he loved: family, friends and tradition. There are many highlights of his life but one in particular was his trip to the Holy Lands and being asked to read the Gospel on the Sea of Galilee. He touched so many lives and loved each one of those lives to the end. It will be our duty to preserve his memory for the generations to come. As the photograph of him demonstrates, he was an authentic southern gentleman.
A celebration of his life will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church in downtown Lakeland on Friday, February 28th at eleven o'clock in the morning. Special thanks and heartfelt gratitude go out to the honorary pall bearers: Chuck Brown, Jon Brown, Don Eves, Glenn Ivey, Tom McClure and Rob Rath. All family and friends are invited to a reception immediately following the service at Lone Palm Golf Club. Friends may call on the family any time at home. Donations will be graciously accepted to All Saints' Episcopal Church Building Fund.
Condolences may be sent to the family at


Funeral Home

Heath Funeral Chapel
328 South Ingraham Avenue Lakeland, FL 33801
(863) 682-0111

Published in Ledger from Feb. 26 to Feb. 27, 2014