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Fauquier Historian Dies at 75

John Gott's Affection For County Ran Deep

By Jason Ukman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 8, 2004; Page LZ03

Historian John K. Gott, whose long and dear love affair with Fauquier County made him a preeminent chronicler of its people and past, died Wednesday of complications from lymphoma. He was 75.

Gott wrote, edited and contributed to numerous books about the area and helped found the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation, whose library was established largely with donations from Gott's personal collection. For the past decade, he and Bob Sinclair, a former history teacher and now a member of the county School Board, led semiannual bus tours to bring Fauquier's history to its current residents.

John K. Gott could trace his family roots in Fauquier back to the early 18th century. (Mark Finkenstaedt -- The Washington Post)

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Although Gott lived in Arlington County, his heart was forever tied to Fauquier, Sinclair said. It was his birthplace, and he could trace his family roots in the area back to the early 18th century. He told friends that his interest in history came from hearing family lore when he was a child.

During his childhood, he contracted rheumatic fever and was bedridden for nearly a year. His bedroom "became the living room, and around me gathered my great-aunts," he told The Washington Post in 2000. "The only thing they ever talked about was the family -- for supper, dinner and breakfast. I could reel it off once or twice."

That interest in family translated into an interest in people throughout the region. Sinclair said Gott was drawn to such local legends as John Singleton Mosby, the Confederate fighter.

"It was the human element, the humanizing of history that appealed to him greatly," Sinclair said.

Gott received a master's degree in library science from Catholic University and went on to become a librarian in Fairfax County schools. His last job before retirement was at Langley High School in McLean, which named its library after him.

Gott's works included "High in Old Virginia's Piedmont: A History of Marshall," which he spent 30 years researching and writing, and "The Years of Anguish: Fauquier County, Virginia, 1861-1865," which he wrote with Emily Ramey.

Gott, who is survived by distant cousins, never married. He was otherwise occupied, Sinclair said.

"A library is a living thing: It breathes, it has life," he said. "Therefore, I would suggest to you that John was probably married to those thousands of books that he had in his possession."

There will be a viewing from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Royston Funeral Home in Marshall. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Marshall Baptist Church.

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