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ANDES - John Gregg, 84, died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loving family at O'Connor Hospital, Delhi on the evening of Feb. 1, 2018.
He was born and raised in Berkeley, California, the son of Barbara Telford and John Jennings Gregg, where he graduated high school and in his early years enjoyed vacations at the Echo Lake family cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
In his teens he worked summers as a ranch hand in Yarrington, Nevada, and as a gas station attendant in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe. His grandfather, John William Gregg, for whom John had great fondness and admiration, established the department of landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
After completing a year at UC Berkeley, John enlisted in the Army (during the Korean War), training at Ford Ord, California. He spent two years in Germany with the 35th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon in Bad Tolz, Bavaria and received an honorable discharge on Nov. 22, 1955, as Sergeant E-5.
On his return to the U.S., John enrolled at Columbia College in NYC. Upon graduation he worked for the Daily News as a Sunday edition features writer. He left the News to begin work on a novel based on the block where he had lived while a student. The book, "A Local Stop in the Promised Land," was published by Create Space in 2014 after many years of refinement and editing.
John is survived by his life partner of 24 years, Judy Garrison of Andes; his daughter, Paisley Joy Gregg and grandson, Kai Wilson, of Manhattan; his sister, Barbara Gray (Willard) of Setauket, Long Island; brother, Stephen Gregg (Kristina) of Sonoma, California and Portland, Oregon; his former wife, Joan Young Gregg of Manhattan; numerous nieces and nephews; and his stepchildren, Maia Macek, Nola Macek, and Nicholas Macek of Treadwell.
He was predeceased by his brother, David.
After a trip by freighter to Panama with his first wife, Joan, where they collected molas and other ethnic artifacts, John embarked on an adventurous and groundbreaking career of acquiring textiles from Central America, India, China and various African countries. During employment with the Ford Foundation in Karachi, Pakistan, he explored tribal regions of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, expanding his interest in the textiles and in the cultures he was discovering. Fascinated by the beauty and grace of the nation's handicrafts he formed an importing company to bring them to the United States. Serai Imports sold to department stores and boutiques throughout the country, and the styles he brought to the states became all the rage in the late 60s. He produced a presentation for the Brooklyn Museum Gallery Shop called "The People of Karachi," followed by a heralded exhibit on the handicrafts of Pakistan at the Smithsonian Institution Museum in late 1969 that included a fashion presentation by Knobkerry of NYC.
John was a member of the New York Mycological Society, and a hiker with the Appalachian Mountain Club. As an avid runner he ran numerous marathons, including the Boston and New York Marathons.
He spent a year living in France with his family, and another year in Kunming, China, where both he and Joan taught English to college students, many of whom they kept in touch with over the years.
John relocated from Chinatown, New York City to Andes in 1987 where he opened Paisley's Country Gallery, known locally as "the basket shop," which continues to this day. His passions for folk art, ethnic textiles, clothing and jewelry, are reflected in the store. He and Judy enjoyed extensive travel, usually during March, often buying for their store, on trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, Belize, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Tunisia, Sicily, and Bali, Indonesia, as well as on road trips around the country.
John played an important role in the Andes Streetscape Revitalization Project and was a longtime member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
There are plans to honor John at the Andes shop (75 Main St.) in late spring with an exhibit of his vintage textile collection.
Donations in his memory may be made to O'Connor Hospital where the palliative care he received at the end was exemplary, or to the Andes Fire Department.
Arrangements are entrusted to Hynes Funeral Home in Margaretville.
Published on February 5, 2018
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