Gratien Jean “John” Espil Jr.
September 15, 1953 - September 14, 2019

John Espil, Jr. was born in Hayward, California on September 15th, 1953 to Gratien Jean Espil, Sr. and Mary Pierce Espil.


He graduated from Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia in 1972. He later attended Cerritos College and accumulated 60 credits towards a degree in Automotive Technology and earned a certificate in Electricity from Thomas Nelson Community College.


John Espil enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1973. While in the Marines, John served as a Parachute Rigger in 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. In 1975, he deployed to Vietnam as part of Operation Babylift and participated in the evacuation of personnel from South Vietnam and the securing of the C-5 crash site at Tan Son Nhut, South Vietnam. He was a graduate of the USMC Field Wire Communication School, US Army Airborne School, US Army Parachute Rigger School, and USMC Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare School. He left the Marine Corps in 1976 as a Corporal.


Following his service in the Marine Corps, John Espil excelled in multiple trades: master electrician; a welder and pipefitter at the Newport News Shipyard and Norfolk Shipyard; a deckhand and mariner with Cedarcrest Marine in Charles City, VA; contract worker with Mattel Toys; opening manager for J.L. Associates Inc. in Hampton, VA; DAV store manager in Petersburg, VA; electrician for Smithfield Packing Company in Smithfield, VA; electrician at Blackett Electrical Company in Chesapeake, VA; recreation aide at the Veterans Medical Center in Hampton, VA; pipefitter at Pacific Marine Mechanical Construction in Signal Hill, CA; first class maintenance mechanic at Owens-Corning Fiberglass in Compton, CA; preventive maintenance technician at Verbatim in Chesapeake, VA; and senior maintenance mechanic at Yupo Corporation in Chesapeake, Virginia for over 21 years.


After a long, courageous fight with colon cancer, John Espil crossed into the next great adventure on September 14th, 2019.


Those who knew John Espil knew that he was a man of unflinching character, deep devotion to his family, strength and stamina beyond normal human endurance, a dry sense of humor that could make anyone smile, an ability to fix anything with his hands, a love of history and trivia, and kindness towards complete strangers.


He leaves behind the love of his life – his constant companion of 38 years, Dominique and the pride of his life – his daughter, Alexandria. He also leaves behind a brother, Mike, and two sisters – Lisa and Giselle.


A memorial service will be held in his honor at Riverside Chapel (7415 River Road, Newport News, VA 23607) at 6:00PM Friday September 20th, 2019. The service is open to the public.

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