ST. JOHNSBURY, VT – Gerald Daggett Johnson passed away peacefully after a long and productive life August 15, 2014 in St. Johnsbury, VT at the age of 94. Jerry was a well-known local broadcaster and videographer, most remembered for his Pets on Parade videos and historical videos of the area.
He was born July 21, 1920 in Derby (Milo), Maine, the son of George L. and Gertrude (Daggett) Johnson.
Jerry grew up on Verona Island and in Bucksport, ME after living in the Milo area, Greenville area, and in Bangor as a younger child. Jerry was very proud to serve during WWII as a radio man aboard various vessels in the US Navy, under extreme risk. His job was sensitive. He was “not to be taken alive by the enemy,” and having to travel separately from his equipment and materials. His adventures were many during those years, and he would often tell stories about his harrowing days at sea, or his visits to ports all over the world where he enjoyed meeting new people. His work after the Navy took him to various places where he extended his radio/tv broadcasting career as a transmitter technician, chief engineer, and announcer. In each place he called home, he settled in and participated: in downtown Bangor, ME (WJOR) he started out as an announcer while developing his radio personality “your old pal ‘Mesquite’” with a Country Jamboree format, then relocated to St.
Johnsbury, VT (WTWN), Havre de Grace, MD (WASA), and Caribou, ME (WFST WAGM WMEM) while raising his family with first wife Beverly. Jerry returned to St. Johnsbury after Beverly died in 1984, and completed many interesting projects with his second wife Claire, including contributing to her historical books of the area, creating slide shows, history talks, and other presentations for local venues, along with producing his own videos for broadcast of the annual Pets on Parade or other special events. He greatly enjoyed video editing work for friends, family, and special occasions, and also became fascinated and experimented with a program for his computer and keyboard which could write the musical notation for what he had sung and played by ear for so many years. Jerry had a highly technical mind that was moved to teach others about the latest technology, and he spent much of his life doing that. He taught radio courses for commercial broadcast licensing and ham radio licensing to anyone interested. Jerry’s ham radio call sign was WA1JTE which he worked regularly for many years. He volunteered for Civil Defense work during the Cuban Missile Crisis years, and had the emergency equipment at home and in the car ready to go at a moment’s notice. His long life was filled with learning about new discoveries in science and technology. He was always interested in the “cutting edge.”
Predeceasing Jerry were wives Beverly (Darby) Johnson, Claire Dunne Johnson, his son Robert Johnson, brothers Leigh Johnson and George L. Jr. “Larry”, sisters Olga Chase and Patricia Drew.
He is survived by his daughters Paula Merritt and Teri Baxter of Bangor, ME; grandchildren Holly Clark of Cove, TX, Stephen Johnson of Corpus Christi, TX, Wade Merritt of South Portland, ME, Jeff Merritt of Coventry, RI, Kate Cuddy of Winterport, ME, Scott Baxter, Drew Baxter, and Jillian Baxter all of Bangor, ME, several great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family who all meant so much to him and were dearly loved, even though he could no longer keep track of them all. Close friends Alice and Francis Goyette of St. Johnsbury, VT were of enormous help and comfort to Jerry during his later years and always spoken of with great affection.
The family especially wishes to thank Deborah Baldwin (Homecare) and her staff and family who provided a stable, happy, and warm home for him when the need for assisted living became evident.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent in Jerry’s memory to the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center, Summer St., St. Johnsbury, VT 05819, to Northeast Historic Film, 85 Main St., Bucksport, ME 04416 or to one’s own charity of choice.
Visitation will be held at 2:00 pm and memorial service will be held in St. Johnsbury at 3:00 pm on August 26, 2014 at Sayles Funeral Home, 525 Summer St. Burial will take place at Riverview
Cemetery in Bucksport, ME at a later date.