‘Hometown boy’ leaves DECH $1 million

Posted May 23, 2011, at 3:05 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A Cherryfield native who made his fortune selling cars has bequeathed Down East Community Hospital a $1 million endowment.

The late John Philip Harriman, who died in April 2010 at age 91, was a self-made millionaire whose estate has benefited many area charities, especially the University of Maine Foundation for the purpose of funding scholarships for Cherryfield graduates of Narraguagus High School and graduates of five other towns in SAD 37.

The endowment gift was presented at the hospital Monday by Jeff Lovitt and Foster Matthews on behalf of the Harriman Estate. DECH will only be using the interest to fund various projects, Julie Hixon, DECH spokesperson, said, adding that the gift was not targeted for any particular specialty or use.

Harriman also provided $10,000 for the Milbridge Medical Center, where he received medical care for many years.

“This is really a story about a hometown boy making good and then ensuring his community was also taken care of,” Doug Jones, interim president and CEO of DECH said upon receiving the gift. “We pledge to be very good stewards of this gift,” he said. “All of Down East Maine can be very proud of John Harriman, his many accomplishments, and his unwavering dedication to this region of Maine.”

Harriman was a devoted resident of Cherryfield, a pilot and an avid conservationist. He served as chairman of Cherryfield’s first planning board for 10 years. He also served on the budget committee for over 30 years and was chairman of the board of appeals for 12 years. He was co-founder of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society and the Cherryfield Taxpayers Association and served as an officer on both groups. In the 1980s and 1990s he operated a feeding station for bald eagles on the Narraguagus River, just above his home.

After the listing of the Atlantic salmon as an endangered species, he served as a member of the Narraguagus River Watershed Council and the next year, 2001, he was appointed by selectmen to represent the town of Cherryfield on the Narraguagus River Watershed Management Plan.

Harriman graduated from Cherryfield Academy in 1935 and the University of Maine in Orono in 1939 before serving in the U.S. Navy during WW II.

Harriman later was employed as an engineer for New England Telephone Co., and in 1962 he purchased the Cherryfield Motors Ford Dealership and managed it for 20 years until he retired.

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