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

David Gilmour, an entrepreneur known for building a luxury resort on Wakaya Island in Fiji and creating Fiji Natural Artesian Water, has died at the age of 91. He passed away on June 11 in Manhattan due to cardiac arrest.

Gilmour had a successful career as a businessman before buying Wakaya Island in 1987. He imported Scandinavian home furnishings, built high-end stereos, and co-founded a gold-mining company. Wakaya Island held a special significance for Gilmour, as he saw it as a place of sanctuary after the tragic murder of his daughter in 1983.

In the 1990s, Gilmour opened the Wakaya Club & Spa, an exclusive resort on the island. Despite initially considering it a place for friends to visit, the resort became popular among celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Keith Richards.

It was during this time that Gilmour noticed guests drinking Evian water at the resort. He realized that Fiji, with its abundant rainfall, could provide a superior water source. He discovered an underground aquifer on the Fijian island of Viti Levu and began packaging and shipping Fiji Natural Artesian Water in distinctive square bottles. The purity of the water, due to Fiji’s lack of industrial pollution and pesticides, attracted consumers worldwide. Today, Fiji Water is the second-largest imported water brand in the United States.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1931, Gilmour grew up in Toronto. He started his career as a salesman and later ventured into various businesses, including importing Scandinavian housewares and furnishings. Gilmour also co-founded Clairtone Sound, a hi-fi systems company. However, the business suffered losses and eventually failed.

Gilmour rebounded with Southern Pacific Properties, a company that acquired over 50 hotels in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. He also became involved with Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold producers. Gilmour described his professional relationship with partner Peter Munk, stating that he enjoyed the challenge of starting new ventures while Munk enjoyed managing established ones.

Fiji Water, marketed as a luxury brand, experienced commercial success but faced criticism from environmentalists due to its impact on energy consumption and plastic waste. Gilmour sold Fiji Water in 2004 and Wakaya Island in 2016.

At the time of his passing, Gilmour was involved in Wakaya Perfection, a wellness company that sells ginger and turmeric products grown in volcanic soil in Fiji and Nicaragua. The company gained recognition when Oprah Winfrey featured its products as her favorite things.

David Gilmour is survived by his wife, Jillian. He will be remembered as a visionary entrepreneur who transformed Fiji’s water resources and left a lasting impact on the business world.

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