M. Sherwin Murch Jr., 85

FLORIDA — M. Sherwin Murch, Jr., 85, died at Dowling Park, Fla. on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.

He was the son of the late Malcolm S. Murch Sr. and Lena (Barnes) Murch. Sherwin was born March 31, 1927, in Rockland, and suffered a head injury in the birth process, causing cerebral palsy which handicapped him throughout his long life.

The Great Depression arrived with the fall of the New York Stock Market in 1929, and in 1931 the family moved to South Paris, where Sherwin learned to walk at age 4, and started school at age 7.

In 1937, the Depression had started to break, and the Central Maine Power Company rebuilt a small hydroelectric power plant on Stevens Brook in Bridgton. They hired Malcolm Murch to operate the plant for the next 20 years. There were three more children by then, and they all grew up in Bridgton.

School was always difficult for Sherwin, but he did learn to read well. On his 16th birthday, he stayed home from school, and never went back.

In order to do something productive with his time, Sherwin raised chickens for eggs and meat for several years. This involved family participation, but it was primarily Sherwin’s project.

The family was very active in the Advent Christian Church in Bridgton, and Sherwin was always interested in doing something constructive and helpful. When the parish hall was built in 1948-49, Sherwin pulled 30 pounds of nails from tons of lumber for re-use in building the facility. He took great pride in the fact that he could be useful in spite of his handicaps.

In 1957, CMP put the powerhouse on automatic operation, and moved the Murches to Lewiston, where Malcolm was re-assigned to the steam plant. In Lewiston and Auburn, older people will remember Sherwin as a handicapped door-to-door household supply salesman many years ago.

In 1967, when Sherwin was 40 years old, his brother, the Rev. Ronald A. Murch, and his wife took responsibility for Sherwin’s care and wellbeing, taking him to Connecticut, where facilities and programs for handicapped people were more readily accessible. Ronald maintained this responsibility for 18 years.

At the end of that time, Sherwin’s sister-in-law with her second husband took responsibility for him for a year or two, when Sherwin’s sister, Janice Chapman and her husband, the Rev. G. William Chapman, and his younger brother Brian and his wife Janice took him to Dowling Park, Fla., and took responsibility for him for the rest of his life.

At Dowling Park, Sherwin spent the happiest time of his life. He found many things to do to help people in small, but significant ways. He loved to talk with people, and his quirky sense of humor endeared him to many.

“Can I give you a hand, Sherwin?”

“No, I have two already. I don’t know what I’d do with a third one.”

“Sherwin, are you all right?”

“No, I’m half left.”

His life was not wasted.

Sherwin is survived by a brother, the Rev. Ronald A. Murch of Lewiston; a sister, Janice Chapman of Dowling Park, Fla.; a brother, Brian Murch of Zephyrhills, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a brother, Bruce Murch.

His body has been donated by his wish to a medical research facility in Florida. Eventual interment will be in the Murch family lot in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Bridgton.

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