Tom, a longtime resident of Winthrop, successfully touched many lives in multiple roles -- educator, peace and community activist, volunteer, husband, father, grandfather, friend and neighbor -- throughout his 83 years. Tom was born June 22, 1928, in Waltham, Mass., the son of Henry and Jennie Sturtevant, and the third of five children. He was raised in Concord, Mass., and attended Concord public schools, graduating from Concord High in 1946. He served for four years in the Navy during the Korean War as a "twidget" (avionics and radio repairman) and second-class petty officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex. It was during his Navy service when the seeds of his peace activism were sown. While watching shipmates arm bomber planes on the carrier flight deck, Tom began to question the legitimacy of war as a means to settle conflict.
After the war, Tom attended Clark University in Worcester, Mass., on the G.I. bill and graduated with a degree in English. Two years later, he earned a masters in education from Columbia University Teachers College in New York. He taught at Branford (Conn.) High School for three years before moving to Maine, his father's home state, for a teaching position at Augusta's Cony High School in 1960.
In 1961, he purchased a dilapidated farmhouse and 100 acres of land at the foot of Mount Pisgah in Winthrop. He planted vegetable gardens and worked on the house during the summer break. He met his wife, Mary S. Coffin, while bringing well water samples from his new home to be tested at the Department of Health in Augusta, where Mary worked as a chemist. They fell in love and married on Aug. 25, 1962. Two children -- Benjamin and Susannah -- arrived two years apart in 1965 and 1967.
Tom taught English at Cony for 24 years. Besides teaching, Tom served as an adviser for the student newspaper, Ramses, and worked with the American Field Service international cultural student program. He retired from teaching in 1983. He worked for several years as a proofreader at Geiger Bros. in Lewiston before finally retiring from the workplace in 1993.
Upon his retirement, Tom immersed himself in many community and grassroots projects, particularly those focused on the promotion of peace and pointing out the wastefulness and travesties of war. He was an active Quaker, attending the Winthrop Center Friends Church. He was a leader of the Winthrop Area People for Peace, and was a regular attendee and speaker at peace breakfasts in town. In 1985, he became a charter member of Veterans for Peace. The organization was founded in Auburn, with just 20 members, and has grown into a national organization with hundreds of chapters and thousands of members. He was a volunteer with the Winthrop Food Bank and deliverer of Meals on Wheels to the elderly. Tom was an avid organic vegetable grower, who helped establish the Winthrop Community Gardens and recently worked on a garden project for the Winthrop Grade School.
To Tom, success was as it was defined by the following passage:
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
Tom's hobbies were many. Aside from gardening, he was a swimmer, hockey player, stone wall builder, nature lover, maple syrup producer and mountain climber. He took pride in his ability to move huge boulders and rocks with ease to create beautiful gardens and flower beds. He loved to swim in Wilson Pond and Maranacook Lake in Winthrop. A swim, he said, was a reward for a hard day's work. Few things made Tom happier than to lace up a pair of skates, grab stick and puck, and play a game of pond hockey on the shores of Maranacook or any other frozen body of water in the area. He loved hockey and was an avid fan of the Boston Bruins and of New England college hockey.
Tom was predeceased by two brothers, Donald Sturtevant and L. Bowman Sturtevant. Tom is survived by his wife, Mary Stewart Coffin, of Winthrop; his older brother, Bradford, of Newburyport, Mass., and younger sister, Nancy, of Natick, Mass. He is also survived by his son, Benjamin, and his wife, Erin Lloyd, and their daughter, Clare, of Hallowell; and daughter Susannah Sanfilippo and her husband, Francesco Sanfilippo, of Portland.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a fund in his name that will be designated to help with the expansion of the Charles M. Bailey Library in Winthrop or to Veterans for Peace (www.veteransforpeace.org).
There will be no visiting hours. A service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Winthrop Middle School Gymnasium. Burial will be later in the spring at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass.
Arrangements are in the care of Roberts Funeral Home, 62 Bowdoin St., Winthrop, where memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website at www.khrfuneralhomes.com.