Everett A. Pearson: All in, All the time

Published on November 12th, 2019

Since its launch in 2011, the National Hall of Fame has enshrined 81 heroes of the sport, with its induction ceremonies offering an opportunity to witness these outstanding individuals. The Class of 2019 was the ninth such occasion, with the grandfather of fiberglass production, Everett A. Pearson, among the latest inductees.

Receiving the award for Everett, who passed away in 2017, was his son Mark. Here was his acceptance speech:

On behalf of my mother and my sisters Suzanne and Sandra, we say, “Thank you very much for bestowing this upon dad.” I’m not going to talk about the boats or all the things that he built, but rather I’m going to talk about Everett Pearson. Three pictures come to mind.

The first picture is with him sailing on the Kickemuit River. That’s where he met mom when they were 14 years old. They spent time sailing on the Kickemuit and Mount Hope Bay and other areas, sailing small boats, racing S boats, moving up into Pearsons and Freedoms and other custom boats that he built.

The second picture is of dad playing golf. After sailing, he needed another sport that he and mom could participate in, and golf became a major activity in his life, getting to know many people in the industry, with friends in Florida and New England to play with. Frank Butler once sent him a new driver, and he said, “Everett, you got to play with this one because you’ll never miss a fairway.” And dad took it and enjoyed it for about one week then went back to his old driver.

The third picture was dad jumping into a pool in Florida. When we look at that, it reminds that whenever Dad did something, he jumped in with both feet. No matter what it was – his faith, his family, his friends, his business – when you got Everett Pearson, you got all of him.

When Rod Johnstone asked Everett many years ago a simple question to build a boat for him, little did he know that they were getting a friendship that would soon encompass the Johnstone family and the Pearson family that continues to this day.

Same goes for when Gary Hoyt brought Freedom Yachts to dad to build, and even after Freedom was sold off, he and Gary remained best friends. You could go to the local diners and see dad with a piece of paper and Gary’s design, trying to figure out how best to build it. What design would work? What might not work?

Another moment meant a lot to him and is not often discussed, but it was when a young gentleman came into dad’s office on a pair of crutches with a dream to get handicapped people out on the water. He felt that if he could build that boat, it would be a wonderful thing. Well, after their conversation, dad agreed to build the boat if the person would build the organization.

That person was Harry Horgan, and the organization was soon to be Shake-A-Leg. The boat was the Freedom Independence 20, but soon after their design meeting, dad told Harry how the lawyers didn’t think they should build the boat, concerned that there’d be too much liability if someone gets hurt on it. Harry was stunned, asking, “What did you say?” Dad replied, “I thought about it for a little bit, and I told him, ‘Even the handicapped deserve a chance to get hurt’.”

So they went on to build the boat and when they had their first regatta, there was an after party when a young man approached who was a collegiate football player. He said to dad, “When you’re playing football, and you get that adrenaline rush on big plays, I used to have that, but then after my injury that was taken away from me. But today, you gave it back to me and I want to say, thank you.”

That’s what dad wanted. He didn’t want the accolades. He wanted somebody else to be able to benefit from it. So on behalf of the family, we say, “Thank you very much. We appreciate it.”

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