The Man Who Could Fix Everything

I met Dick MacCormack for the first time on an Island off the coast of Maine. It was also the first time I had taken my 5-year-old son, Brad, fishing for mackerel. We picked a spot at the end of the large wooden wharf where the ferry from Portland pulls in a few times each day.

After straightening out the tangled mono filament line a couple of times we finally cast the shiny jig into the ocean. The heavy metal hook swung out over the water a bit short of our intended mark. The incoming tide quickly drew the line under the wharf where the hook caught one of the pilings that anchors the wharf to the ocean floor. The rod bent impressively as we tried to reel in the jig.

After several attempts to free the hook from the piling I was just about to cut the line and use one of the two jigs left in the package when Dick walked down to the end of the wharf. Dick could fix almost anything and possessed all the tools to do the job. Observing what had happened he turned and walked down a rickety wooden ramp to a float where a dozen small boats were tied. As the boats bumped up against each other with the motion of the waves, Dick slipped gracefully into a dinghy, rowed around to end of the wharf about 15 feet below. He freed the jig, then rowed back to the float, walked up the wharf and up the road. A few minutes later he returned with a bucket full of jigs in case we needed a few extras.
Both of my kids had the great benefit of being around Dick when we visited the Island. They gave him the opportunity to be a kid again.

When he was in his 60s Dick took in a foster child, a boy about age 10, raised him, saw him graduate from high school, join the Navy, and grow into a respectable young man.

In 1999, when Dick passed away, friends packed the Island church to remember him. They told stories about how he helped when they were hurt, in trouble, or had a broken water pump. I could picture Dick, his slim frame and quiet demeanor, enjoying every opportunity to spend time helping someone and enjoying a few laughs in the process.

After a few hours of memories that brought laughter and tears, one Islander arose and concluded by saying, “There must have been trouble in heaven and Dick’s been called up to fix it.”


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