In Memory


John Pitts

  John Frederick Pitts, 70, died on Sunday, September 4, 2022, surrounded by loved ones. Born in Charlottesville on February 28, 1952 to Grover and Cora Pitts, he grew up roaming the local woods and the surrounding Shenandoah. His love of the natural world would last his whole life.

John attended East Carolina University, where he excelled on the track team and set a high jump record before joining the basketball team and going all the way to the NCAA tournament. His discipline and sportsmanship defined everything he did.

After college, John began working local construction jobs. Despite the first house he built falling down, John persevered. He moved back to Charlottesville, where he and his two brothers formed Ace Contracting, Inc., a beloved business that would go on to thrive. John is warmly remembered by clients as a thorough, honest businessman who took the utmost care with the homes entrusted to him.

John met the love of his life, Myriam Bessemans, at 31, proposing after only four weeks. They built a beautiful home and life together, raising two daughters. He shared with his wife and children his love of nature, his passion for athletic endeavors, and his strong moral compass.

In his later years, John discovered the joy of birding. He was seldom found without binoculars nearby and was frequently known to identify birds from just a flash of wings. This passion spoke to his gentle nature while also giving him an opportunity to teach his erudite wife the word "rufous."

A kind hearted man, his surprisingly wicked sense of humor endeared him to all, and even in his last days, kept his nurses laughing. We hope he is finally enjoying a burger and ice cream, camping with his brother Jim and his best friend Tim, birding with his father, and going on long beach walks with his wife.

John is survived by his two daughters, Mieke Cranford and Lieve Ata and their growing families; his sons-in-law, Matthew Cranford and Peter Ata; his granddaughter, Anneke Cranford; his mother, Cora Pitts; his brother, Geoff Pitts; his sisters-in-law, Judi Pitts, Pat Pitts, Lieve Bessemans, Sara Peetermans; his brother-in-law, Johan Bessemans; and more family and friends than we can count. He will be sorely missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to one of the following organizations: Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, The Nature Conservancy, or the National Audubon Society.

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Click here to see John's last Profile entry.