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David Gilmour, Champion of Fiji’s Water Access, Passes Away at 91

David Gilmour, a Canadian-born entrepreneur who within the Nineteen Nineties constructed a luxurious resort on Wakaya, a tiny island he owned in Fiji, after which created Fiji Natural Artesian Water, turning an area useful resource into a number one bottled model, died on June 11 in Manhattan. He was 91.

The trigger was cardiac arrest, stated David Roth, a good friend and enterprise accomplice.

By the point he purchased Wakaya from two enterprise companions in 1987, Mr. Gilmour had constructed a number of companies over 30 years. He imported Scandinavian house furnishings and constructed high-end stereos. He helped assemble a series of accommodations within the South Pacific, which made him accustomed to the archipelago nation of Fiji, and he co-founded a gold-mining firm.

However there was one thing completely different about Wakaya. On the time, he was mourning the dying of his solely youngster, Erin Gilmour, who had been murdered in her residence in Toronto in 1983.

He known as the island “the final bastion of sanity on the earth,” his spouse, Jillian (Sweeney) Gilmour, stated in a cellphone interview. “He thought when every little thing went kerflooey, that is the place he would go.

“The island itself is so lovely,” she continued. “There’s an space known as Chieftain’s Leap, with hovering cliffs, the place peregrine falcons make their nests.”

In 1990, Mr. Gilmour opened the Wakaya Club & Spa, a cluster of eight free-standing suites on a former coconut plantation. On the time, he stated, he opened it as “actually only a place the place my associates, these I can’t put up in my own residence, can come and share the peace.” He added: “I don’t see it as terribly industrial, frankly. It should in all probability solely break even.”

It nonetheless turned common with celebrities, together with Tom Cruise, Invoice and Melinda Gates (who spent a part of their honeymoon there) and Keith Richards, who fell out of a palm tree there in 2006 and was flown to a hospital in New Zealand with a head damage.

At some point within the Nineteen Nineties, Mr. Gilmour noticed visitors on the property ingesting Evian water.

“He stated, ‘There’s one thing flawed with this image,’ and I stated, “What do you imply?’” Ms. Gilmour stated. “And he stated, ‘We’re on our personal island, and so they’re ingesting water from Lake Geneva. I do know that with Fiji’s rainfall, there should be a better water supply.’”

Mr. Gilmour discovered of an underground aquifer beneath the volcanic highlands of the Fijian island of Viti Levu, with water wealthy within the mineral silica. In 1996, his firm started packaging and transport its distinctive sq. bottles world wide.

Mr. Gilmour stated the water’s purity was the results of Fiji’s geographic remoteness. “There’s no acid rain, no industrial air pollution, no pesticides,” he advised The Palm Seashore Put up of Florida in 1998. “It’s the purest virgin ecosystem.”

Fiji is now the second-largest imported water model in the USA (after San Pellegrino), in line with the Beverage Advertising and marketing Company.

David Harrison Gilmour was born on Nov. 5, 1931, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and grew up in Toronto. His father, Adam Gilmour, was an funding banker, and his mom, Doris Godson Gilmour, was an opera singer.

Mr. Gilmour studied enterprise administration for a yr on the College of Toronto. He then accepted his father’s supply of a $10-a-day stipend to journey by Europe, which he did for some time earlier than returning to Canada.

“I discovered what persons are actually like,” he told Palm Beach Illustrated in 2015. “I discovered to the touch solely what I completely consider in one hundred pc. And I discovered find out how to deal with myself.”

He turned down his father’s supply to affix his financial institution and as a substitute moved to Montreal, the place he bought pots and pans door to door for a yr.

His first enterprise was importing fashionable, streamlined Scandinavian housewares and furnishings. He adopted that in 1958 with the start-up Clairtone Sound, a collaboration with Peter Munk, a Hungarian-born electrical engineer. The corporate made critically acclaimed, refined hi-fi techniques whose patrons included Frank Sinatra and Hugh Hefner. Nevertheless it foundered after branching into televisions and shifting operations, disastrously, to Nova Scotia.

Amid steep losses, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk have been compelled out of the corporate in 1968 and later settled a lawsuit claiming that that they had bought shares earlier than the announcement of poor quarterly ends in 1967.

They recovered rapidly, and in 1969 began Southern Pacific Properties, which amassed greater than 50 accommodations in Australia and New Zealand in addition to in Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti and different islands. An bold improvement that was to be constructed close to the pyramids in Giza, Egypt, was finally nixed by President Anwar Sadat in 1978.

Three years later, Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, a Singaporean banker, bought Southern Pacific for a reported $130 million. However Wakaya remained individually owned by Mr. Gilmour and his companions, till Mr. Gilmour purchased them out.

Within the early Eighties, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk have been among the many authentic companions in Barrick Gold, one of many world’s largest gold producers. Mr. Munk was its longtime chairman and chief govt, and Mr. Gilmour was a board member till 2001. Mr. Munk died in 2018.

Mr. Gilmour described his working relationship with Mr. Munk in 2008 with The Globe and Mail of Toronto. “I’m extra the entrepreneurial kind who likes challenges of beginning up, and Peter loves rising a colossus,” he stated. “As soon as it reaches a crucial mass, I sort of get bored sitting round a boardroom desk.”

Fiji Water, marketed as a luxurious model, was a industrial success. However, like different manufacturers, it drew scorn from environmentalists, who criticized the business for the quantity of vitality it consumed and the greenhouse gases it created in making and transport plastic bottles, to not point out the plastic waste they go away behind. Fiji, specifically, was singled out for transport water to customers hundreds of miles away.

Mr. Gilmour bought Fiji Water to Roll Worldwide in 2004 and Wakaya to Clare Bronfman, an inheritor to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, in 2016, after a Class 5 cyclone devastated the island. “We bought it for 10 cents on the greenback,” Ms. Gilmour stated.

Mr. Gilmour’s spouse is his solely speedy survivor. His marriages to Anna Wilmot, Erin’s mom, and to Diane Williams led to divorce. He lived in Manhattan and Palm Seashore.

Mr. Gilmour, who sold his Palm Beach estate final yr for $44.9 million, had one final firm in his portfolio at his dying: Wakaya Perfection, a wellness firm that sells powders and capsules of ginger and turmeric grown in volcanic soil in Fiji and Nicaragua.

“David had this perception that natural, single-source, very pure, high-quality ginger and turmeric could be one thing that folks needed,” Mr. Roth, who began the corporate with Mr. Gilmour, stated by cellphone. “And Oprah selected it twice as one in every of her favourite issues.”

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