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John Abbot is co-owner of ChinaLoveMatch.net. Married to a lovely Chinese Lady and living in China, John knows and respects China, Chinese Women, Chinese People and Chinese Culture. His blog will include good stuff about Online Dating, Chinese Women, International Relationships and Things Chinese. Join John Abbot on Google+
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We Have All Lost a Dear Friend and a Guiding Light

By John Abbot
6806 Views | 36 Comments | 2/24/2015 6:24:22 PM

This is, without any doubt, the most difficult thing I have had to do since we started ChinaLoveMatch.net.  I am so sorry to have to report to everyone, especially those of you have been with us for a long time, that our close compatriot and much read and admired blogger, Gareth Humphris, has passed away.  This sad news was reported to me this evening by Paul Fox, who had tried to contact Gareth by phone, only to have Gareth’s sister answer the call. She advised him of Gareth’s passing.



I don’t have much more to report at the moment other than that Gareth passed away in his sleep, and that he left behind a new Chinese wife and a 13 year old daughter.  This is just a short notice for you all and we will be putting together a much more substantial tribute to Gareth over the coming days.



I am writing his sister to seek more details about Gareth’s passing and also about his recent life since he last blogged some 8 months ago. Once we hear back from her expect a tribute to be posted shortly after. 



Meanwhile, let me say that Gareth was one of the best, in my opinion the best, blogger that CLM/ALM has ever enjoyed having grace our pages. He had a keen, albeit somewhat dry, sense of humour that just added to his amazing gift at telling a story so vividly that it really danced before your eyes. Some of us write about a street and it’s just a street, but Gareth so often turned it into a living, breathing visual organism that you could picture in your mind in the finest detail.



Added to that, nobody among us bloggers came close to really understanding China and the people of China as well as Gareth understood them.  I have lived in China 12 years now, and I sometimes feel that I have learned more about China from reading Gareth’s blogs than from all my time experiencing China first hand. That is how strong and finely tuned his powers of observation were. I have been missing Gareth’s blogs as of late, and it cuts me deeply to suddenly be made aware that I will go on missing them forever more.



More later, but in the meantime, please enjoy just some of Gareth’s many great blogs through these selected links:



1.       Part 1. Anthropology in China – What the Hell is Going On Here? (Gareth’s first blog)



2.       Mythical Creatures in China - Guanxi



3.       Easier to Ask Forgiveness  than Ask Permission



4.       Searching for a Tiger Lady



5.       Old Zhang



6.       On Dating a “Traditional” Chinese Woman



7.       But If She Did, You’d Like It, Right?



I am now sitting alone with the lights turned off. My computer screen lights my words as I write.



I have poured myself a generous shot of Bourbon, my drink of choice.



Gareth and I both owned bars during our early years in China, and this thing in common always made me feel brotherly towards him.  Tonight it seems an appropriate way to say goodbye to this man, whose simple way of describing and explaining in his writing the amazingly deep and profound understanding he had for the most complex country and culture on Earth, our China, so deeply touched me and enlightened me.



And now I raise my glass.



A toast now, to Gareth.



May you sleep well but briefly, and may morning find you in a better place. May your wife and daughter treasure the short time they spent with you, and may they find you again someday, there in that better place. Thank you for lighting our way during the time we shared with you in China. Thank you for taking the time to help us find our way. You will not be forgotten, you will be missed. Cheers to you dear friend. Gambei!


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Comments
(Showing 1 to 10 of 36) 1 2 3 4 More...
#2015-02-24 19:32:20 by Barry1 @Barry1

For once, I am lost for words to say.

God bless you, Gareth.

Thank you so much for the advice, the stories and the memories you generously bequeathed to so many of us here, myself included.

May God also bless your beloved wife and young child in Suzhou that so sadly have now been left behind. I pray and trust that Chinese family members will now close ranks behind them to offer sorely needed comfort and support.

A life well lived is one that has not been wasted. Most certainly, this applies to our dear friend and learned comrade, Gareth. :(;(:(;(

#2015-02-24 20:03:56 by olayoil @olayoil

surprised me ,,,in shock ! so sorry to hear it ....
i am in suzhou and i read his blog too ,,,hope we all are happiness and long live....

一路走好,Gareth ...

#2015-02-24 20:16:19 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

John
your words have moved me beyond words.
i am sorry that I had to break this tragic news to you today.
Gareth was not only a fellow blogger but also my personal friend. We had enjoyed each other's company on many occasions both in his favourite Starbucks as well as in various restaurants. He was a big man with a big heart
I'm in a friends bar as I write this - also toasting my good friend who I will sorely miss. What makes it worse for me is that I spoke to him just 2 days before he passed away
i have tears in my eyes as I write this and a huge lump in my throat
wherever you are my big friend you will never be forgotten and will always be remembered with fondness and love
so long buddy

#2015-02-24 22:56:03 by QinQL @QinQL

John

Is it TRUE?

Tell me, Tell us, it is not true, John, we knew you enjoy joking kiding...

He is so young, just has a new chinese wife and a lovely baby, how could he passed away from his new happy family and his fans like us here so suddenly...

I opened Gareth's profile again after I read this blog article. He told us "Married but friendly" in his profile. " I have lived here(Suzhou) for 15 years and I like the place very much!!" What he did and talked really let's feel he likes Suzhou likes China very much. John, he has lived in china 3 years more than you.

I remember Gareth had talked with me so friendly on blogs and forum several times......
and I feel honor because I knew he is one of the greatest bloggers on CLM.

Tears blinding my eyes.

#2015-02-25 03:03:24 by YinTingYu @YinTingYu

@John Abbot
All,
"I read the news today oh boy,...about a Lucky man who made the Grade...".
These were the first lyrics that came to mind when I heard of Gareth's passing.
Immediately I went for the 18 year old Glenlivet reserved for such occasions and now write.

I never had the chance to meet Gareth in person but only through his blogs and comments.
Hopes are that they will be saved / archived for all to read. Those articles really helped me when I first became a member.

I sensed his mind was keen, his heart was good, and both were connected (imagine that).
Add a jolly sense of humor, positive outlook on life, a certain degree of compassion, put them in a Big package and the result: a vital life force! Get ready Universe,"there's a good one coming" !!

Although he will be sorely missed by family, friends, and members here, it is hoped that along with our grieving we can also celebrate his life, feel good that we got to meet him, that he was kind enough to share his insights and some time with us.

I think he was Very Lucky to experience, learn, know what Love is and,... how to give it.
This in itself, from my view, is worth a Lot in any life one is fortunate enough to have.
We will remember you Gareth. We will remember You kind fellow.

Sincere Condolences to All,
Latcho Drom Gareth.
(safe journey)
Latcho Drom.....

Y.T.Y., Gongji

#2015-02-25 05:49:28 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

The good die young. You'll be missed by many.

Rest in peace Gareth.

#2015-02-25 07:09:00 by Macchap @Macchap

John,

The way you feel Gareth about is felt through your words.

#2015-02-25 07:11:36 by chengcheng72 @chengcheng72

I am also very sorry to hear this bad news.We all know from his blogs that he is man that love life very much ,he always thought deeply .

Let's treasure our life and our time !

一路走好!

#2015-02-25 07:54:50 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

To all of you above, thank you for adding your voices to mine in expressing what a loss this was and how important Gareth was to us. Your thoughts are beautiful, and I am sure his family will be reading them and take joy in how many people Gareth has benefited through his wonderful and big-hearted writing.

Gareth gave much to us, and through expressions of our appreciation here we can hopefully give something back to him. Please keep your comments coming. We promise to make good use of them.

#2015-02-25 12:38:15 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

I would like to share something about Gareth that most of you here never knew about.

Few CLM members knew that Gareth and I had met on several occasions and had become friends during the last couple of years or so. Whenever I was in a Chinese city not too far from Suzhou I would always call him and we would arrange to meet. A couple of hours on a train or bus might have been a nuisance for me, but it was always worthwhile because I got to see this big man's welcoming smile.
Gareth was a BIG man with a big heart and a personality to match. You all know him through his excellently written blogs here that span the last 5 years and in real life he was exactly the same as he portrayed himself in his writings.
You probably know that he ran a bar for a few years and there is no doubt that this is where he met and made friends with so many people. As a foreigner in China he was unrivaled when it comes down to knowing how things "tick" in this sometimes foreboding country.
After the bar business, Gareth spent his working hours teaching business-English.
His huge frame earned him the name 'pang lao shi ', literally meaning "fat teacher". He never became offended by this and seemed to quite happily amuse people who commented on his weight. So much so that Gareth even adopted panglaoshi as his personal email address.
Yet he would never refer to himself as a teacher. He was an English 'coach and mentor'. China LOVES 'status' and this was Gareths simple way of maximizing his income. He could get away with charging a higher fee as a 'coach' or a 'mentor' than he could as just a plain old 'teacher'. Such was his understanding of China and the Chinese culture, and he was using it to his own advantage just as much as a native Chinese person would quite naturally do.
I have mentioned his big physical size several times and this is nothing new. Gareth himself has made reference to it in many of his blogs, but I want to share a little 'secret' with you as to the way in which Gareth viewed his own big body.
He had a little 'game' that he loved to play.....
When he was out with Chinese friends for meals or drinks, Gareth would insist that on the way to the destination his friends would walk 10 metres or so behind him.
A man the size of him is a rare sight indeed but in China?  Comments in Chinese would come thick and fast as other groups of people walked past in the opposite direction. Out of earshot of Gareth but well within the earshot of his friends 10 paces behind, the comments would be translated into English and told to Gareth. He never seemed to tire of the remarks people used to make about him.
He KNEW he was a big guy but he always said that he would get around to doing something about it "one day" - such was his inimitable way.
It's so sad that he never quite got around to it. Having spoken to Gareths sister it seems that it's accepted that his size contributed to his untimely passing. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. At this time there is to be no post mortem at the request of his family.
Knowing the man as I did, and knowing how he felt about the subject of his size, I must admit to having a wry smile on my face when I woke up alive and kicking this morning.
I'm not a little guy. I used to be up around 126 kilo but currently at around 105 with a goal of closer to 95 - Gareth was easily TWICE my size and weight.
It would take a strong man to lift or carry me but the wry smile came as I imagined Gareth looking down from above as small Chinese paramedics attempted to remove him from his bed into a more permanent resting place.
I just wondered how many men were needed to carry out this grim task.
I for one know that Gareth would have enjoyed this final moment of his 'game' and would have loved to hear the comments that were made by the people who had the job of moving him.
It certainly would have brought a smile to his face
R.I.P. my friend!

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