Melvin Eastman, 75

Melvin Eastman

FRYEBURG — Melvin Eastman, 75, of Fryeburg, died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving family on Saturday, July 28, 2018.

Melvin was born on Jan. 9, 1943 in North Conway, N.H. He was the only son of Walter and Alice Thompson Eastman.

Melvin was educated in the local schools with a few scattered years in the Portage/Milo area. Melvin attended Fryeburg Academy his freshman year, then went on to do his sophomore year at Milo High School, returning to Fryeburg Academy to finish his junior and senior year, graduating with the Class of 1961. While at the academy he participated on the track team and also joined FFA. While still a student, Mel, along with a group of his friends, decided to join the U.S. Army Reserves so off to Portland they went; Melvin was the only one in the group that passed and he was signed up that day. You have to wonder if the joke was on Melvin or on the Army. You see, Mel was only seventeen at the time. It didn’t take the Army long to realize their mistake so his basic training was deferred until after his graduation the following June. Meanwhile Mel continued to work part-time for Phil Andrews at Riverside Farms. After graduation Mel fulfilled his commitment and did his basic training in Fort Dix, N.J. He continued with the Army Reserves from 1960 thru 1968, with an honorable discharge.

Upon returning home he returned to work full-time for Phil until he decided to try working at Harriman’s Store. It was at this time that he married his sweetheart Margaret and went back to work for Phil at Riverside Farms. The following year he moved his family to Conn., where he was employed by General Electric Company. He quickly moved up in the ranks, doing many different jobs. A few years later he moved his family back to Maine and started building homes and doing remodeling jobs.

In 1975 the “bottom” fell out of the building industry and he went to work for Lovell Lumber Company, where his father worked as a millwright. Mel took classes and became a grader of lumber, then to the head of maintenance. When Mel took this job he told his boss, Ed Woodbrey, that he would stay until the building industry picked up again. Meanwhile Mel gained a great respect for Ed and his work ethic and the vision that Ed had for the expansion of the company. During his years at Lovell Lumber Mel looked ahead to the future, not just for himself but for all employees, and was instrumental in creating a retirement plan for all the workers. He remained at this company for thirty-three years, until his retirement in 2008.

Melvin was a gentle soul with a wonderful dry sense of humor. He was very much a family man and considered himself rich, not with monetary worth, but because of his children. He considered his greatest accomplishment was raising his children to become caring and responsible adults. He was often quoted as saying that he and Margaret “grew up right along with their children.” As the children married and bought their homes he was right there helping to fix anything that needed to be done, including installing new siding and steel roofing on Marianne and Jeff’s home, helping Mike obtain and fix his first home and helping Michele with her first home.

During a trip to Conn. in December of 1981 to visit friends and to show daughter Marianne where she was born, a fire started at his in-laws’ home back in Fryeburg. He very quickly returned to assess the damage and to make a plan to rebuild. It was during this time that his father-in-law Raymond called him one night and said that if Mel could give him a complete list of everything needed to build this house, inside and out, then he could get a builder’s discount on everything. It seemed like an overwhelming task to accomplish overnight, since Raymond needed it by morning but Mel got it done. He drew up the blueprint for the new house and with the help of his brother-in-law Billy LaFontaine and many people willing to help, the rebuild began in late December. He continued to work days at his regular job and building on the new house nights and weekends. Much to everyone’s delight his in-laws were moved into their new home on Easter Sunday, 1982. The rebuild was completed in four short months.

With a natural talent at fixing things and solving a mechanical problem he received many phone calls to help and never turned anyone down. He was always ready to lend a hand to anyone in need. During those busy years of raising a family he was also active in the Saco Valley CB Club, serving as president and he also served as a trustee of the Fryeburg New Church of Jerusalem.

In his later years, while the grandkids were all students at the academy, he had the time to attend many of their sporting events, especially the girls’ softball games, traveling to playoffs at St. Joe’s college and then going to states for the championship game. It was an exciting time for all of us. One winter he traveled to Chris’s basketball game, went to Bridgton for Nicole’s ice hockey game, returned to Fryeburg to watch Emily’s and Brianna’s basketball game, and then watched Liz do an exhibition with cheerleaders, all on the same day. He loved and so enjoyed his three great-grandsons, especially when they came to visit. Mel had a special bond with the boys and they shared a mutual admiration for each other. He was so happy that he could attend a couple of Emerson’s T-ball games this year.

Throughout his battle with cancer, lasting over nine years, he never complained. He faced every new hurdle, giving thanks for every day and each additional year he was given. He was so grateful to Dr. Buzzell for all the years of care given to his family, and to Dr. Gerchman for whom he had great trust and appreciation when guiding him through many rough times throughout the years. As Melvin’s caregiver, Margaret was known to ask many questions throughout each stage of the disease and always turned to Dr. Gerchman for answers while helping her get Melvin the care that he so badly needed, and Doc was always a phone call away. To Dr. Gerchman…you have Margaret’s utmost gratitude and appreciation; you enabled her to keep Mel at home with his family right to the end. Many thanks to his oncologist Dr. Boedeker and the oncology nurses Dianne, Lindsey, and Jo, along with receptionists Tina and Katherine at Bridgton Hospital — they were Mel’s lifeline and became extended family. Many thanks go out to Androscoggin Hospice for their help in Mel’s last few weeks, especially his nurse Helen, giving Mel loving care and giving Margaret guidance and support throughout this ordeal.

To our family…you have shown your love for dad (papa) in so many ways that have made him proud. To our daughter Michele…mom couldn’t have seen this journey through to the end without you. A huge thank you to your employer and the staff of Northern Human Services, who were invaluable and went above and beyond in allowing Michele this time off to be with her beloved dad.

Last, but certainly not least, this family would like to thank this wonderful community we are privileged to live in, Roy Andrews and the Fryeburg Fair Association for the use of their facilities and those very close friends that have been here for us with continuous support and love; being our “go to” people when we needed help. We love and so appreciate you Jim/Jane, Bruce Thurston, Ralph/Pearl, John/Gloria, Marion/Buzz along with many others.

He was predeceased by both his parents and also a daughter, Marianne Eastman Pelkie of Fryeburg. He is survived by the love of his life, wife Margaret Eastman, with whom he celebrated their 54th anniversary in June. Also surviving is son Michael Eastman and wife Wanda, whom Mel affectionately referred to as his favorite daughter-in-law; and a daughter Michele Eastman Wilson, all of Fryeburg. Also the source of many years of enjoyment and love were his grandchildren: Nicole Pelkie Stefano and husband Joseph Stefano and their two boys, Elizabeth Eastman and companion Dakota Trafton, Emily Wilson and her partner Alicia Grant and her son, Brianna Pelkie and her soon-to-be husband Walker Day; and his only grandson, also known as his favorite grandson, Christopher Eastman and wife Courtney Bartlett Eastman and their son. Melvin and Margaret included as part of their family two “adopted” grandchildren, Carrie Cressy and Tym Meserve. They were included in many family events and were, and still are, delighted when they come to visit. Also surviving are his three sisters, Gertrude Eastman Leach of East Conway, N.H., and her partner Ron Sheaff, Donna Eastman Light and husband Ron Light of Fryeburg, and Peggy Eastman Lane and husband Danny Lane of Brownfield; sister-in-law Holly Hatch Strange and husband Mark Strange of South Carolina, brother-in-law David Hatch and wife Donna Hatch, sister-in-law Judy Hatch, all of Fryeburg, and brother-in-law Billy LaFontaine of Conway, N.H. Also many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds in the Expo Center, with Rev. Alison Lane Olson officiating. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Mel’s memory to the Fryeburg New Church, Oxford St., Fryeburg, or Fryeburg Rescue at PO Box 177, Fryeburg, ME 04037. Burial will be private. Arrangements are under the care of Wood Funeral Home, 9 Warren Street, Fryeburg. Online condolences may be shared with his family at www.woodfuneralhome.org

 

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