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John Russell Kittredge

Apr 17, 1950 - Feb 18, 2017

John's Story

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Tucson - Capt. John Russell Kittredge, M.D., USPHS (Ret.), 66, of Tucson, Arizona and Otis, Maine, died peacefully on February 18, 2017 surrounded by his loved ones. He was born April 17, 1950 in Ellsworth, Maine, the second son to Russell M. and Florence D. Kittredge.

While growing up in Ellsworth, John enjoyed summers in Otis, Maine at his family's camp on Beech Hill Pond. Following his childhood dream to become a doctor, he graduated in 1968 from Ellsworth High School with high honors and went on to attend Boston University for his undergraduate studies. During his time in Boston, he was proud to have been invited to participate in a college summer research training program in behavior genetics sponsored by the National Science Foundation at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and also to attend a special semester with Boston University's Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. After these and many more adventures with his friends at Boston University, he graduated with an A.B. in Biology, cum laude, in 1972, and was accepted into medical school. That same year, he married Junemma Foss of Hancock, Maine.

John earned his medical degree in 1976 from The Albany Medical College of Union University in Albany, New York, and completed his residencies and served as chief resident in family practice at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey. In 1979, he embarked on an honorable 31+ year career with the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) as a physician and administrator for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Throughout his years of service, he provided outstanding health care to hundreds of patients and their families and continued to practice medicine until his retirement. His clients affectionately called him Dr. K., and many brought him beautiful handmade gifts to show their deep respect and gratitude for his compassion and clinical skill. John acted in various administrative leadership positions in Shawnee, Oklahoma and in Tucson, Arizona, including Clinical Director of the Shawnee Service Unit; Clinical Director of the San Xavier Health Center; Medical Contracts Coordinator for the Tucson Area Indian Health Service; and as Chief Medical Officer for the entire Tucson Area Indian Health Service, including Sells and San Xavier. He also was elected to lead various committees and received many awards and medals from USPHS and IHS during his career. When he left Oklahoma to relocate to Arizona in 1989, and again when he retired from the USPHS Commissioned Corps in 2011 as a Captain, he was honored and celebrated by his colleagues, patients, and friends.

John had the good fortune of meeting Carol Chee Gay through their work with the San Xavier Health Center, and they happily married in 1999. John and Carol enjoyed 20 years together travelling the world and visiting all seven continents. Destinations included Greece, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, England, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, France, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, India, China, Thailand, Tibet, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Argentina, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Prince Edward Island, New Zealand, Fiji, and Antarctica.

John especially loved spending several weeks every summer at Camp Kittredge on Beech Hill Pond where he relished in socializing and storytelling with childhood friends and relatives, eating lobsters and clams, and sitting out in the hammock listening to the loons. When not exploring the world or relaxing in Maine, his active travel schedule included vacations across the United States with his children and grandchildren, as well as frequent trips with Carol to the Navajo Nation. Some of their other favorite getaways in Arizona were Sedona, Miller Canyon, and Mule Shoe Ranch. John also cherished the many celebrations and Sunday dinners he shared with his family in Tucson. And, his numerous grandchildren could always count on him to say yes to a trip to Disneyland, where he could put in a 14-hour day of non-stop action, no problem!

His entire life, John lived by the Golden Rule and highly valued people and relationships. He was kind to everyone and always willing to listen and to offer help, no matter the need. He showed unconditional love to everyone in his enormous circle of family and friends. Though he was always very busy lending a hand to those closest to him, he found time to serve his greater community as well. Most recently, he volunteered as an officer on the board of his homeowners' association and as a science fair judge for local schools.

Along with his big heart, John had an amazing mind. With a great thirst for knowledge and entertainment, he followed many interests including reading, family history, classical music, current events, Native American arts, nature and wildlife, and of course, the field of medicine. He also enjoyed hiking, swimming, and watching movies. It cannot be omitted that he absolutely loved good food and was willing to try most anything - and finish off the leftovers for breakfast.

His family will always miss his positivity, love of fun and adventure, witty humor, and great wisdom. We will always remember him drinking his coffee, reading the paper, and working on his crossword puzzle. Perhaps what we will all miss most though is his heartfelt laughter and his great hugs. He left us too soon, but he lived a wonderful life.

John was preceded in death by his father Russell Kittredge, mother Florence Kittredge, brother Charles Kittredge, and granddaughter Jennifer Killman. He is survived by his five children with Junemma Foss Kittredge (d. 1997): Crichton Kittredge (Brenda), San Francisco, CA, Russa Langpap (Christian), Corvallis, OR, Olivia Kittredge (Rebecca), Berkeley, CA, Claramond Bisho (Nicholas), Pleasant Hill, CA, and Clive Kittredge (Jennifer), Albany, OR; grandchildren Madison, Cassidy, Connor, and Kennedy Kittredge, Nicole and Andrew Langpap, Emma and Caden Kittredge, Isabelle and Cooper Bisho, and Amelia Kittredge; nieces Jill Kittredge, Albuquerque, NM and Suzanne Kittredge (Art Loya), Corrales, NM; and many other beloved relatives and lifelong friends.

He also leaves behind his dear wife Carol Chee Gay Kittredge, Tucson, AZ; daughters Melody Ortiz (Duane), Valerie Lindley, and Michelle Osterbaan (Leon); grandchildren J.R. and Tommy Killman, Ecotra and Jai Antone, Skylar Ortiz, Joshua Lindley (Elizabeth), and Giselle and Hazel Osterbaan; and great-grandchildren Rachel and Summer Lindley.

A celebration of life will be held in Tucson, Arizona on March 25th, 2017 with burial services to be held the summer of 2017 at Forest Hill Cemetery in Lamoine, Maine. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of John may be made to The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 (www.jax.org); Ellsworth Public Library, 20 State Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605; National Public Radio, P.O. Box 791490, Baltimore, MD 21279 (www.azpm.org); or The Nature Conservancy, 1510 E. Ft. Lowell Rd, Tucson, AZ 85719 (www.nature.org).
Published on  March 16, 2017
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