John I. Smallidge ’54

At the bountiful age of 87, John Irving Smallidge passed away Sept. 21, at home with his family in East Lyme.

He is predeceased by his loving wife of 61 years, Doris Scarvalone Smallidge. He is survived by his four sons, their wives and children – Michael, his wife Michele and children Lucas and Lily; Timothy, his wife Carolyn and children Brandon and Tyler; Andrew, and his daughter Caitlin; Stephen, his wife Tracey and children Zoe, Zane and Zeke. He is as well survived by many nieces and nephews, who he always remembered so fondly.

Born in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1931, John, known as “Ting” to local friends and family, was raised in his ancestral home in Northeast Harbor, one of Robert L. Smallidge and Nathalie Turner Smallidge’s six children – Dorcus (Donnell), Hugh, Jane, Nathan and Robert. He was the last surviving member of his siblings.

John grew up outdoors on the water and in the forests in and around Mount Desert Island where his family were early settlers and he enjoyed the run of a most beautiful, and at the time, relatively quiet place. He was fortunate to be able to help deliver mail by boat, teach sailing lessons to swells at the NEH Yacht Club and to work with local commercial fisherman while studying at Gilman High prior to attending college at the Maine Maritime Academy.

Following graduation from the MMA, John enlisted as an officer in the U.S. Navy, serving in multiple locations abroad before leaving for employment as a merchant mariner sailing globally.

Having met the love of his life Dorie while she was vacationing on Mount Desert Island, John and young family settled in East Lyme to provide a place close to both the sea and to the woods, enabling him to share his love of those natural spaces with his growing family. He was employed by the East Lyme Board of Education as a math teacher to open East Lyme High School in 1967. John was the originator and for many years, coach of the East Lyme crew program, based initially out of Blood Street Sculls boathouse on Rogers Lake, Old Lyme.

John continually supplemented his teachers income, teaching celestial navigation to various groups, teaching sailing and briefly working at the Niantic Bay Yacht Club and by working summers as captain of several passenger sailing schooners out of Mystic. For many years he guided the “Mystic Whaler”, “Voyager” and “Argea”, on multi-day excursions to a number of Southern New England destinations, from Greenport to Cutty Hunk. John and Dorie were also long time members and ardent supporters of the Niantic Bay Yacht Club and of the Crescent Cruising Club where they were active in volunteering their help and made many lifelong friends formed over cockpit cocktails. Upon his retirement, John and Dorie continued sailing their sloop Medric, gunkholing simply along the coast and making sailing trips along the New England coast to his home in Northeast Harbor. In later years they spent winter months (he reluctantly, purely a New Englander, always in loving support of her) in Vero Beach, Florida.

His children and grandchildren will spend a lifetime in amazement of his selfless good will, courage, slowness to anger and sense of personal honor to do the right thing. To the very end, blues eyes bright with humor and goodwill, he was cheery and welcoming to friends and strangers alike, with never a complaint about personal sacrifice or discomfort. His was no act, tough to emulate, a most worthy model of true character and so very loved.

Memorial Service to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 25, at the Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home, 48 Grand St., Niantic. Condolences may be shared on John’s memorial page at

John’s family would like to express their most heartfelt thanks to Hospice of Southeastern CT for the amazing support and service provided. In a very difficult time, they made it much less so.

Also, in his passing we are much comforted in knowing John Smallidge will fully know who John Smallidge is once again.