FRANKLIN — John Ramsay Dundas, 78, on Oct. 8, 2011, at Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, surrounded by his children, passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his wife, Joasha. Born in Roundup, Mont., on June 26, 1933, John grew up in Big Sky country.
As a boy, he often — and eagerly — traded the confines of the schoolhouse for the endless horizons of the great plains. Riding his favorite horse Rosie, he worked cattle drives, or rode a rancher’s fence line, driving posts and making repairs. He loved the wide open spaces of Montana and became an avid outdoorsman — camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting and often sleeping under the stars with his father, Doug Dundas. John received his B.S. in finance from Montana State University in 1956. Upon graduation, he followed his father’s path and embarked upon a career in banking. John’s true calling, however, was not finance but advertising. His advertising career took him to Madison Avenue in New York City, where he developed campaigns for clients such as Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Lipton, Mead and others while employed by SSC&B and Altman, Stoller and Weiss. In honor of his favorite account, Arrid Extra Dry deodorant, he built a 17-foot wooden boat entirely by hand and christened it the Extra Dry. A U.S. Army veteran, John served as a training tank commander and was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant. John had tremendous love of country and for all those who served. He proudly flew the stars and stripes. In 1957, John married Zelda Robertson of Jacksonville, Fla. Twelve years later, widowed with three children, he met and married Joasha Kells, also widowed with three children. He then began raising all six between the ages of 5 to 15 and never differentiated between those of his blood and those of his heart. He took great pride in supporting their academic and extracurricular endeavors and often ended a long day in New York City by jumping off a commuter train to attend any one of a number of school activities. He delighted in their many successes. John, Joasha and children lived in Rye, N.Y., where John was a highly respected member of the community and served as a deacon at the Rye Presbyterian Church. He was a devoted member of a Potluck Dinner group, whose famed New Year’s Eve celebration he attended without fail for 37 years. An accomplished chef and generous host, John enjoyed cooking for friends and family. His award-winning chili was a particular favorite. Upon retirement, John and Joasha moved to Franklin on Taunton Bay, where he happily settled into Maine life. Here, he enjoyed building stick furniture and played drums for the Eden Bagpipers and banjo for his own enjoyment until an accident with a bandsaw took his left thumb. John began his life in the great northwest, and spent his final years in the great northeast. No one loved everything “Maine” more than he. The rugged honesty and simplicity of life in Maine mirrored his Montana roots, and suited his independent soul. John, an avid thespian with a deep bass voice, took great joy in performing for the Grand Players, Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Camden Opera House and Acadia Community Theater. He performed in The Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore, Patience, The Mikado, Yeoman of the Guard, Trial by Jury, H.M.S. Pinafore, Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man, Annie, Seussical, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, War of the Worlds, Evita and Beauty and the Beast. His favorite role was Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, and he was very much looking forward to playing Santa Claus in The Christmas Story this coming December. He took great pride during his tenure as president of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society and a member of The Grand Board of Directors, both of Ellsworth. Kind, honest, reliable, stalwart, and intelligent are a few of the words used to describe John Dundas. He was an avid reader, a careful planner and a wise and loyal friend. His guidance, steadfastness and strength will continue to influence the lives of his loving wife, Joasha; his children, Heather Dundas of Pasadena, Calif., Valerie Kells Middleditch (Andrew Middleditch) of Charlottesville, Va., Douglas Robertson Dundas (Jennifer Donnelly Dundas) of Salt Point, N.Y., Andrea Marie Kells (James M. Miller) of New York City, David Girvin Kells III of Chatham, Mass., and John Alexander Dundas (Megan Donnelly Dundas) of Monrovia, Calif.; and grandchildren, Adena and Teo Rivera-Dundas, Andrew and David Middleditch, David Girvin Kells IV and Daisy Dundas.
His family wishes to thank his many loving and devoted friends for their kindness and support. A celebration of John’s life is planned for Nov. 12, 2011, at a location to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions to The Grand Theater in Ellsworth in his memory. Contributions can be made to: The John R. Dundas Fund at The Grand Theater, 165 Main St., Ellsworth, ME 04605. (207) 667-9500. Attention Zoe Scott or Charlie Alexander.