NEWARK, Del. — John Gibson Roulstone, age 97, passed away peacefully on Jan. 22, 2023, at his home in Newark, Del.
He was predeceased by his wife, Judith Moss Kolb Roulstone, and his long-time companion and partner, Merle Hill Griswold.
Born and raised in Newton, Mass., John left high school to join the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served on the USS La Prade (DE409) in the Pacific until the war’s end. He returned home to attend Boston University and earned an MBA from Northeastern University. During this time, he and Judith began their family.
John is survived by his son, John G. Roulstone Jr. (Sally); two daughters, Jill Clements (Larry) and Jan K. Roulstone (Bob); three grandchildren, Martin G. Small, Benjamin R. Clements and Andrew C. Clements; five great-grandchildren; and many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of his beloved partner, Merle Griswold.
John loved learning, reading, sailing, debating and arguing. Family and friends will remember dinners and visits as times of storytelling and discussion. He thrived on taking a contrary point of view just to challenge those who were in the room and encourage them to defend their position. Until well into his 90s, he read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal daily, along with countless books of historical non-fiction.
Before his gradual loss of memory in his early to mid-90s, John used to refer to himself as the luckiest man alive. He was very proud of his service to his country, his career (especially his work for government contractors on the Gemini and Apollo programs), his family, and his second family.
While living in Fairfax, Va., after the kids had left the nest, John and Judy sponsored three Cambodian refugees who were fleeing from the carnage in their own country. They shared their home with them for many years.
When he retired at age 65, he and his partner, the late Merle Griswold, rode across the country on his motorcycle. Eventually, they began dividing their time between John’s beloved childhood summer home in Searsport, Maine, and Merle’s farm in Doerun, Ga. John served on the board of Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, and as an occasional docent there.
His last few years were difficult. His memory and hearing disintegrated along with his physical strength (he was still doing one-handed push-ups at age 70!). He was well cared for by his youngest daughter, Jan, and her husband, Bob Martin, in his home attached to their home. He frequently expressed how fortunate he was to have such “a good setup” for growing old.
There will be a celebration of his life for family and friends in Searsport, sometime this summer. Anyone who knew John will know that in lieu of flowers he would encourage a donation to the Penobscot Marine Museum, 2 Church St., Searsport, ME 04974.