John F. Shea: A retirement marked by an outgoing, lively interest in community life

Janet and John Shea

John F. Shea, Jr., 89, passed away in Portland on January 31. He and his wife of 63 years, Janet, moved to their “Pointed Fir” home in Martinsville in 1993, following Shea’s career as a civil engineer with the Polaroid Corporation. An outgoing person, Shea took a lively interest in community life from the moment he arrived in St. George.

The campaign to move the Jackson Memorial Library into a new facility was a particular passion. And once the library moved, Shea, for five years a library board member, was always willing to turn his engineer’s point of view to helping trouble-shoot problem issues with the new facility. He enthusiastically took on projects such as ventilating the room that houses the library’s electronics, installing automatic thermostats, and improving the heating system in the children’s room. Shea was also responsible for pulling together the library’s monthly men’s discussion group.

An avid vegetable gardener, Shea’s curiosity about the natural world of this peninsula led him to also become involved with the town’s Conservation Commission. Restoring a run of alewives into the Tenants Harbor marsh was one of his priorities. He spearheaded a campaign to restock the marsh with spawn-ready fish from 2009 to 2013, and strongly advocated for the replacement of the obstructive culvert at Ripley Creek that finally occurred in 2015. He particularly encouraged and enjoyed the involvement of the St. George School, where he also volunteered as a math tutor, in these restoration efforts.

Shea’s service in the U.S. Navy from 1946 to 1948, too, was the foundation of his fierce pride in being a veteran and a member of the Kinney-Melquist American Legion Post-34 in St. George.

The Sheas moved to Portland, Maine, in 2017 to be closer to their two daughters and more accessible to their three sons and grandchildren in the Boston area. —JW

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