Tommy Mertaugh dedicated his life to preserving the beauty and mystique of wooden boats, and his passion for classic vessels will live on through the students at the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, Mich.
The 47-year-old Mertaugh’s sudden death on Oct. 8, 2013, stunned the collector boat community, as he was a well-known and highly skilled restorer whose family has been in the business for generations.
“Tommy’s enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment will be greatly missed by the classic boating community – the ACBS (Antique and Classic Boat Society) in particular,” said Bud McIntire, director of development and student services at GLBBS. “He was one of the founders of our school and an early board member who helped steer us on a successful course.”
Mertaugh’s grandfather Eugene J. Mertaugh founded the first Chris-Craft dealership in the country in 1924 in the small town of Hessel, Mich., located in the Les Cheneaux Islands area on Lake Huron in the Upper Peninsula. In 2000, Tommy and his father, Jim, and brother, Dan, opened Classic and Antique Boats in Hessel, with Tommy serving as business administrator. The company became known as one of the finest restoration shops in the country, and its boats have won numerous awards.
To honor Tommy Mertaugh’s quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, an endowment fund is being established through the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation. The Thomas “Tommy” Mertaugh Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to give financial assistance to second-year GLBBS students “who are truly dedicated to becoming highly skilled builders, restorers and finishers in the wooden boat trade.”
Contributions can be paid to the order of Les Cheneaux Community Foundation (please note Mertaugh Memorial Scholarship Fund on the memo line) and mailed to: Les Cheneaux Community Foundation, P.O. Box 249, Cedarville, MI 49719.
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