James “Jimmy” Stewart Dyer, 73, passed away Friday, April 18, 2014, at Togus Veterans Hospital Hospice Unit. Jimmy was a lobsterman, part-time plumber, long-time mechanic and natural born humorist. Born May 6, 1940, to Thorn and Jessie Stewart Dyer he grew up on North Haven with his brother Bernard and sister Jean Isabel Dyer Shields. During World War II his family moved to the Boothbay area for work but returned shortly after the war ended. He was educated at island schools, graduated North Haven High School in 1959 and that fall attended Emery Riddle Aeronautical School in Miami, Fla.
In 1961 he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served during the Korean War as a Fuel Systems Mechanic, stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. Jimmy talked fondly of his time there and his forays into Canada with his buddies.
After returning to his island home he worked as a house painter for Cuddy Curtis and as an auto mechanic at Frank Sampson’s Wayside Service Station. One of his many duties at that job was to drive the “school bus.” At that time, in the early 60s that involved taking Frank’s station wagon around the island to pick up the kids. It took several trips and he occasionally had to wrestle a reluctant kid out of the bushes when they didn’t want to go to school.
At one time Jimmy worked at Bath Iron Works fabricating parts for ships and he joined a buddy on a research ship cruising the Mediterranean. Memories of time spent in Israel generated many anecdotes. Jimmy returned to North Haven and settled into a comfortable routine of lobstering during the summer months in the “Delta Dawn,” (versions I & II) then finally a South Shore 30 christened “Apache” and working with Rex and Linda Crockett plumbing during the rest of the year. There was never a dull moment with Jimmy on the crew.
At some point Jimmy picked up the nickname “Crow” and it stuck throughout his life. A seemingly unadorned, honest and unpretentious man Crow Dyer was complex underneath. At first impression he presented as gruff and distant, time spent getting to know him revealed a scholar of human nature, a razor sharp wit and a true friend. Known to be stubborn at times, he was resolute with regard to his personal freedoms. With age Jimmy grew thoughtful on many social matters as his various life experiences connected him with more people and places.
Notorious for his collection of one-liners, often original, he had a saying for every occasion and rarely left a room without making everyone laugh. He had a knack for reading people and could create a lighting quick joke, not to make fun of them, but to simply reveal their true nature.
A loner by nature, Jimmy enjoyed the company of others on his own terms. He was genuinely curious and interested in people. He loved to talk about anything and everything: Lobstering (it was always terrible,) the weather (it was always terrible,) and politics (it was full of crooks.) He was never afraid to speak his mind. He loved to ride around the island to see what was going on. He would more often than not stop walkers for a road-side chat or slide his lobsterboat, Apache, alongside another island lobsterman to chew the fat on a lovely day on the bay. Later when he moved to the mainland he enjoyed driving to all the small villages along the Midcoast area just to see how other folks lived.
He was very interested in WWII history, especially the airplanes. One of his most memorable adventures was going for a ride over the islands in a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress plane during the Owls Head air show. His love of classic cars stemmed from his early years as a car mechanic so Crow spent a couple years restoring a 1963 ½ Ford Galaxy and liked cranking up the country station while taking a slow “cruise around the horn,” as he called a ride around the island. Perhaps his one true love was coffee. Jimmy’s exercise walks and sometime bike rides were the two miles between coffee places on the island. None of that fancy coffee stuff for him, just good old fashioned black coffee – and of course a chat with whoever was there.
When Jimmy had finally tired of the upkeep on his large family home he sold it to the North Haven Sustainable Housing group. Originally a duplex, it had been converted to a single family home by Jim’s father. NHSH reverted it to a two family duplex called The Dyer House. In doing this Jimmy made it possible for two young families to have affordable year-round housing, a legacy that will help many island families for years to come. Jim moved to Rockland and enjoyed semi-retirement, returning for the last few summers to go lobstering. During the winter he could be found in the Ferry parking lot in his little green truck checking on the ebb and flow of the islands.
Jimmy was pre-deceased by his parents, his sister Jean Isabel Dyer and nephew Robert Shields. He is survived by his brother Bernard, his niece Caroline Shields Shepherd and nephew Richard Shields Jr., his sternman of more than 20 years, Mark Hopkins, and all his island friends.
“Chicken today, feathers tomorrow.” – Jim Dyer
A graveside service officiated by Rev. Dave Macy to celebrate Jimmy’s life will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 3, at Fuller Cemetery, North Haven. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his name to North Haven Sustainable Housing.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ― William James
Arrangements are in the care of Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland. To share a memory or condolence with Jimmy’s family, please visit his Book of Memories at bchfh.com.