Obituary of Christopher Clement Lofting
Christopher Lofting was born on February 21, 1936, at 11:18 in the morning at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles. His middle name was Clement, which he never used, not even the C. His parents were Hugh Lofting, the award-winning author-artist of the Doctor Dolittle series of illustrated children’s stories, and Josephine Fricker who was the nurse hired to look after the famous writer.
From the beginning, Chris and his family were on the move, traveling between homes in San Clemente, California, and Killingworth, Connecticut. On walks with his father Chris learned to really look at things along the way and to look up at night to identify the stars and constellations—the beginnings of a love of science. After his father died in 1947, the family ended up—via Detroit—in Los Angeles, where Chris went to Beverly Hills High and graduated from USC, going on to earn a Master’s in history.
Another cross-country trip led to life in New York, where his son, Justin, was born. Chris began his own writing career at Life magazine, and eventually moved into the evolving business of travel and travel writing. For a decade he kept up a weekly column on business travel in the Journal of Commerce, sometimes transmitting copy from the road. He enjoyed the ways and means of travel—the movement—and describing the people and places, and the practicalities of engaging the unfamiliar. He joined the Society of American Travel Writers as a freelancer and was elected president in 2000.
A major shift came with the death of his mother in 1966, while she was visiting New York from LA. With the help of Aunt Olga Fricker, Chris became responsible for the promotion, protection and explanation of the world of Doctor Dolittle and all his quirky, entertaining animals. All of that was second nature, since Chris had listened carefully when his father read the stories out loud and he had watched him at his drawing board using the finest brushes and carefully chosen paper. The books have been published around the world and inspired a stage play, a big musical production and several movies—the first starring Rex Harrison filmed on location in England. In 2019 when Simon & Schuster published “Doctor Dolittle The Complete Collection” in four volumes, Chris observed, “Not bad for books with rights in public domain.”
Design, lighting and the view were important components of a home base, to be shared with family and friends. He brought all of that together in Soon Come, the 32-foot-square house with cupola built on the rocky edge of Cayman Brac, in the Caribbean. Chris was on-hand for most of build, oversaw the pouring of the in-ground cistern, and assembled all the furnishings in Tampa. Many of his happiest times were spent there, on the deck with family and friends, enjoying the breeze and gazing at the sea all around.
In his quiet way, Chris was true and loyal to his family and friends, supporting their efforts in life and joining them to celebrate important occasions. He said, “I don’t require friends to be sane, they just need to be interesting.” Relationships were nurtured with calls, notes, visits, good conversation and laughter. He had a knack for finding the perfect gift, the most interesting, artistic souvenir. He learned by asking simple, well-considered questions; on the other hand, those who were close, could ask him anything and get a true answer.
Christopher Lofting died in Hospice Care on the morning of June 27, 2021, at NYU Tisch Hospital in New York. He is buried with his family in Killingworth, Connecticut.
Survivors include: Justin M. Lofting with wife Stacie and children Zac and Ellie, of St. George, Utah. And Maria S. Shaw of New York City.
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