The tradition of Eight Bells pays respect to deceased mariners and signifies that a sailor's “watch” is over.

The practice dates back to the days of the sailing ships, when sailors couldn't afford to have their own time pieces and relied on the ship's bells to tell time. The ship's boy kept time by using a half-hour glass. Each time the sand ran out, he would turn the glass over and ring the appropriate number of bells. Each ship “watch” is four hours, or eight bells, in length.

Submissions for Eight Bells

If you learn of the passing of a MMA classmate, associate, friend or family member, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations so that we may include the information in our Eight Bells listings. Send obituaries or their digital links to

  • John S. Woodward ’70

    Deceased date: September 20, 2021
    Jack Woodward, 73, died unexpectedly on Sept. 20, 2021.
    He was born in July of 1948 in Salem, Mass. He graduated from Maine Maritime in 1970. He spent most of his life in t…read more
  • Charles L. Spalding ’72

    Deceased date: September 19, 2021
    Charles “Chuck” Leland Spalding, loving brother, father and grandfather passed away peacefully on September 19th, 2021, with family by his side. Born on March 6, 1…read more
  • Donald L. Merchant ’55

    Deceased date: September 6, 2021
    Donald L. Merchant, 87, beloved husband of Sally Merchant, died Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, at Knox Center for Long Term Care. Donald shipped for 21 years, then worked for the Maine State Ferry Service for ten years.…read more
  • William J. O’Reilly ’62

    Deceased date: September 6, 2021
    William “Bill” O’Reilly '62E has passed. Bill spent nearly 30 years at sea rising to Chief Engineer and sailing with Ogden Marine. He came ashore for an encore career as a Port Engineer for Ogden Marine (now OMI Corp). In retirement he split his ti…read more
  • Stanley A. Fraser ’64

    Deceased date: September 6, 2021
    Newcastle, Maine - Stanley Fraser, 79, of Bremen, Maine and Quaker Hill. He passed away peacefully with family by his side at L+M Hospital Aug. 19, 2021. Stanley was born June 2, 1942, his parents were Wendall and Louise (Perkins) Fraser. He lived in N…read more
  • John D. McKeown ’82

    Deceased date: July 20, 2021
    John D. McKeown (Sailor John), 61, of Tampa, Florida, passed peacefully in his sleep on July 20, 2021. He was born in New Haven to the late Nancy (Downing) and James E. McKeown. John grew up in Northford, CT with a very active youth, playing little lea…read more
  • Commander Gerard L. Nelson ’43-2

    Deceased date: July 6, 2021
    Gerard L. "Rod" Nelson, Commander U.S. Navy (Ret.), 96, successfully completed his last tour of duty on this planet and was called to his heavenly home in the early morning hours of July 6, 2021. Rod was born in Staten Island, N.Y., on March 30, 1925 a…read more
  • Leonard T. Daley ’44

    Deceased date: July 3, 2021
    Leonard T. Daley, 96, passed away peacefully with his loving wife, Patricia, at his side on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Leonard was born in Lewiston on March 31, 1925, son of Teresa (Driscoll) Daley. Leonard was in the 3rd Maine Maritime Academy class, gra…read more
  • Richard Smith Knight ’67

    Deceased date: June 27, 2021
    Rick was born on March 28, 1945 in York, Maine, the son of the late Richard S. Knight, Sr. and Barbara Helen Weare. He died June 27, 2021. He attended York High School, where he played football, graduating in 1963. He then attended Maine Maritime Acade…read more
  • William L. Benson, Jr. ’78

    Deceased date: June 26, 2021
    William L. Benson, Jr., died June 26, 2021, at his home in Dover, N.H., surrounded by family. During the final weeks of his life, family members joined together to provide compassionate and loving care, enabling Bill to enjoy views of the Cocheco River an…read more