By Ashok P Misra
Dehradun, 17 Apr: Fredrick John, among the last remaining scions of one of Agra’s most illustrious families, passed away today at the City Heart Hospital in Dehradun.
He leaves behind his wife, Anna.
Fredrick made a name for himself in Agra’s tourism industry in the ‘80s and ‘90s, particularly as a knowledgeable gemologist. During his travels abroad, he met Anna, a Swiss citizen. After their marriage, he spent several years in Switzerland, but over the past over a decade, the couple lived in Dehradun as they found it the most salubrious base, even as they continued to travel to different parts of the world.
The John family was originally from Greece, who established the famous John’s Mill in the pre-independence era, providing Agra an industrial base and employment to a large number of people. After it closed down, as the old mills did over time, its properties worth thousands of crores of rupees were occupied by the land mafia and tenants.
The family had also established a huge library in what it today known as Paliwal Park in Agra. This, too, was renamed in recent times after some local figure, taking away what remained of the great legacy. A number of other institutions are housed in what were originally their properties.
Fredrick, known as ‘Pokey’ to his friends, was naturally unhappy with these developments. The family had tried for some years to fight the numerous court cases in the effort to save as much of their possessions as possible but then given up because of the complexities and cost involved. The raconteur that he was, Pokey would recall the colourful past of his forefathers, which included gambling visits to Monte Carlo, and receiving blessings from the Pope at the Vatican.
Till the last, Pokey continued to serve the community and lived life to the fullest. His friends will remember him for his excellent hospitality, his large-heartedness and as great company.
A hasty obituary does not even come close to describing what a wonderful person he was. His friends will raise a toast to his memory – as he would have said, “Don’t take my advice; you will only end up drunk!”
The Garhwal Post extends its deepest condolences to Anna and other members of his family.