Farewell, neighbor

Jack Merrithew remembered

By Fran Gonzalez | May 06, 2019
File photo Jack Merrithew

Searsport — Jack Merrithew, selectman and longtime town supporter, died at his home on Friday, May 3, at the age of 73, from an aggressive form of cancer.

"He did so much for this community," said Town Manager James Gillway. "He loved the history of the town and also the future, too."

Merrithew knew the potential the town had moving forward, Gillway said. He was a big supporter of the Maine Ocean School and really enjoyed maritime history.

According to Gillway, Merrithew's family was originally from Searsport and some of his ancestors were ship captains. Merrithew House on the Penobscot Marine Museum campus is named for his seafaring great-grandfather.

Merrithew was a Vietnam War veteran. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy Seabees — units that specialized in engineering, mechanics and construction — and trained to drop their tools if necessary and take up weapons at a moment's notice.

After returning to Searsport, he worked at the paper mill in Bucksport for many years. A devout Mason, he also had a strong appreciation for the Boy Scouts, which is how Gillway came to know him. Merrithew recruited Gillway to be a scoutmaster when the group could not find anyone to fill the position, which, Gillway said, led to a 20-year stint.

Merrithew was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department for more than 15 years and decades later was a member of Barney Hose, a historical firefighter group. He even dressed up as Fire Chief William Barnes one year, Gillway said, to relate the history of his men and equipment.

Merrithew did two different stints as a Searsport selectman, one for 10 years and the other for five, taking a break between the two. According to Gillway, he had to stop running because of shift work at the mill.

Civil War reenactment was also one of Merrithew's interests. According to Gillway, he reenacted historic battles with the 20th Maine Volunteers at Fort Knox., even staying in Civil War tents.

"History meant so much to Jack," Gillway said. "He lived it."

Co-chairman of the 175th Anniversary Committee, Jack also started the Maritime Heritage Days, now in its fourth year and planned to continue, to celebrate Searsport's maritime heritage.

"He left such an impression," Gillway said. "I told him, you are not going to be forgotten."

 

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