KENNEBUNK – Years ago, John Wilbur made a list of some things he wanted to accomplish before he died.

First, he wanted to run his own business. Second, he wanted to visit every continent. Third, he wanted to ride the Orient Express. Fourth, he wanted to be fluent in Spanish.

Though he fell short of reaching all of his goals, Mr. Wilbur had a remarkable life that included a successful career, dozens of trips all over the world and a loving marriage to Susan York-Wilbur.

Mr. Wilbur died Thursday at age 88.

He was remembered by his wife on Friday as a talkative guy and successful businessman who had a passion for traveling and lived life to its fullest.

For 30 years or so, Mr. Wilbur had his own business, Gryphon Inc., an investment firm that operated candle and gift stores in Portland and Kittery and in Newburyport, Mass.

He later co-founded another company with his longtime friend, the former Rev. Fred Holmberg. They established Cognis Corp., a company that manufactured “bottle lights.”

He also worked for Henkel Corp. selling chemicals to papermaking companies in the Northeast. His wife said he enjoyed visiting the paper mills and meeting new people.

“He loved to talk,” she said. “It didn’t matter where he was, he would strike up a conversation with someone.”

Mr. Wilbur and his family moved to Kennebunk in 1964, where he was active in Christ Church. One of his proudest accomplishments was leading a youth group and traveling with them to Panama to do service work.

His wife said they met at the church. It was the second marriage for both of them. He had three children from his previous marriage.

The Wilburs were married for 33 years. His wife said they shared a great life together.

They drove across the United States, and also traveled to Peru for two weeks. Another year, they visited South Africa for three weeks. They also traveled to Hong Kong.

“I found the airplane trip horrendously long, but we had fun,” his wife said. “He liked to travel. He liked the adventure.”

Mr. Wilbur made it to every continent except Australia and Antarctica. He decided against the train ride on the Orient Express.

Around 2003, he put his travel plans on hold to have quadruple bypass surgery and a heart valve replacement.

“He didn’t have as much gumption after that,” his wife said. “He just wanted to step on Antarctica to say he did it. As he got older, it became too much for him. We talked about Australia a lot, but it’s a long trip.”

Mr. Wilbur’s health had steadily declined in recent months. His wife said he refused tests or any treatment. He died in his sleep at home in Kennebunk.

His wife said she will miss his companionship.

“I’m all alone. I can’t stand being in this big house by myself,” she said. “We lived here for 22 years. The weirdest thing for me is the feeling that I have no responsibility as far as taking care of someone or preparing a meal. … It’s a big loss. I’m sure I haven’t begun to know what it will feel like.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]