Meade Gougeon has passed

Wess

Super Anarchist
West System epoxies and the Gougeon brother’s work has had a big effect on my life. I have admired both Meade and Jan since I was 13 years old and I would say that no one but my parents have affected or influenced me more than Meade and Jan. Through them I developed good epoxy skills and that gave me a livelihood and an satisfying creative outlet.

I think that in many ways Meade is best represented by the company that he founded. Doing one’s absolute best seems to be the way of operating at WEST, no matter how much work is involved. In their case, this is true to the point of wondering just where that kind of ethic came from. I think that a good part of it came from Mead.

 Developing and sharing a new technology must have been exciting for the Gougeon’s, but a responsibility too. The way that Meade and his family and friends went about this task made learning the technology exciting, but it also showed a better way that went well beyond boatbuilding and epoxy. 

Continually improving the products, sharing the technology, being honest about the compromises, and providing good support for people using the products is how the company has been run for almost half a century. I know of no other company that has taken this approach to such an extreme and it has influenced me greatly in both how I approach my work and how I run my business.

Wood/epoxy boats have been Mead’s passion since his beginning with epoxy and it has been a passion that he passed on to so many people, myself included. Mead’s own boat, Adagio is a 35 foot trimaran that he designed and built in 1969/70. Adagio has been continually raced for 47 years and weighs just 2700 pounds ready to race. If that’s not a testament to the technology that they developed, I don’t know what is.

I'm going to miss Meade, even though I never knew him well. Mostly I'll miss watching what he does next. 

Russell
Have always enjoyed watching what you both did/do.  RIP Meade Gougeon.

 

Black Jack

Super Anarchist
He was the guy that made me believe that I could improve, make, repair. His approach to practical application to polymers has farther reaching implications than most will know. His business shoulders and broad interests made, supported and lifted many giants of our time. 

 

otseg

New member
3
0
Meade was unflappable until................

Meade took on the responsibilities of the business side of Gougeon Brothers in the founding days. (He could type) 

Meade felt an executive should have a suitable desk so he cedar veneered the desk top of his ratty one. He "flow coated" the top which meant pouring a quart of mixed epoxy over it and letting it "flow"  and then left the shop while it cured.

Jan felt  Meade was putting on airs when the lightning struck. Someone had left a paint roller in a pool of epoxy on a piece of wax paper and the pooled epoxy had cured, which Jan placed on the now cured epoxy coating on Meade's desk. Jan had forgotten he did it when the explosion occurred upon Meade's return. Everyone scattered like cockroaches so not to be the one Meade strangled. When Jan remembered what he had done, he walked over to the desk and lifted the paint roller, epoxy puddle and all from the desk. Meade's clenched fists dropped and he walked out shaking his head without a further word. 

Uncharacteristic Meade and classic Jan

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Russell Brown

Super Anarchist
1,758
1,435
Port Townsend WA
I'd really enjoy more of 

Meade was unflappable until................

Meade took on the responsibilities of the business side of Gougeon Brothers in the founding days. (He could type) 

Meade felt an executive should have a suitable desk so he cedar veneered the desk top of his ratty one. He "flow coated" the top which meant pouring a quart of mixed epoxy over it and letting it "flow"  and then left the shop while it cured.

Jan felt  Meade was putting on airs when the lightning struck. Someone had left a paint roller in a pool of epoxy on a piece of wax paper and the pooled epoxy had cured, which Jan placed on the now cured epoxy coating on Meade's desk. Jan had forgotten he did it when the explosion occurred upon Meade's return. Everyone scattered like cockroaches so not to be the one Meade strangled. When Jan remembered what he had done, he walked over to the desk and lifted the paint roller, epoxy puddle and all from the desk. Meade's clenched fists dropped and he walked out shaking his head without a further word. 

Uncharacteristic Meade and classic Jan
I wouldn't mind hearing more of these kind of stories. There's a lot of history there and I know very little of it.

 

Hitchhiker

Hoopy Frood
4,675
1,319
Saquo-Pilia Hensha
So sorry to hear.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Meade three times and own all the Gougeon Brothers works.  IMHO, you cannot be better equipped to work with or on epoxy wood/composite boats.

 

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
62,841
2,003
Punta Gorda FL
My favorite thing they did with epoxy was to test their best barrier coat against some of the others and against wax.

Wax won. It's more waterproof than the best barrier coat they could make.

 

A guy in the Chesapeake

Super Anarchist
23,965
1,167
Virginia
The Gougeon family has touched many of us in some way or another.  I've got a very worn and tattered copy of the Red Book on my bedroom bookshelf, and though my epoxy mixing station hasn't been used in a while, it's still there (made from good plywood and adhered w/West Systems).  I'm grateful for what they've allowed and helped many of us to do, and hope that the pain of loss is soon replaced by fond recollection. 

 

otseg

New member
3
0
I only sailed with Meade two times. The first in October 1974 in the Perpetual Invitational Saginaw Sailing Extended River race or PISSER, meaning it was the Wednesday night BEER can race upstream from the Gougeon Brothers shop to the mouth of the Saginaw River and back. The 3 Brothers, Jan, Joel and Meade always bought 3 of each new kind of boat, such as 3 Hobie 14's, then 3 Hobie 16's, then 3 Windsurfers as they came to market, as to obtain "dealer to be" discount pricing.  For the PISSER, one unwritten rule was diversity (actually the only rule), and the brothers left to their individual preference, a rule was not needed.

Meade had a plywood sharpie, which I recognized from Chapelle's 1941 Small boats book, albeit with an Ice boat runner plank for hiking board. 

Joel had some type of class boat I should have been able to recognize,

Jan had something I had never seen before, or could have imagined.

My job was to sit port and starboard, in and out as Meade directed and hold the jib sheet, which was useful to keep from falling in. (October in Michigan) Racing was surprisingly close, but Joel threw a luff on Jan, and Joel and "crew" grabbed the gunnels of Jan's boat, hand over hand propelling  themselves clear ahead. Meade did not seem surprised.

I'm thinking that could work for us too, but then Jan performed a pirate boarding of Joel's boat and with a grip on the shrouds attempted to capsize them. It was quite an animated display as they each leaped side to side in concert. I am not sure when Jan came to the realization that his boat was sailing away by itself but he dove into the water and swam after it.

The second time was the builders trial on the Gougeon built Canada Cup boat "Golden Dazy"  Dazy being the owner Doc Murphy's stock broker whose sterling trades funded Murph's racing. With the Murph on board...........less exciting than the first time.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
A

Amati

Guest
I was lucky enough to show Jan my proa windsurfer (1982), and he smiled (?) and said, "Meade's gotta see this..."  We chatted about multihull balance, the AYRS and Viktor T etc..  It was nice.  

Jan and Meade kept the flame of eccentric, and sometimes extreme cutting edge of boat design alive and well.  I'm shedding a sad, but happy tear.

edit- Anybody remember the guys at the shop trying to fold up a tortured ply IC? I was on the phone with Jan and heard the !Bang!  IIRR, he said something to the shop like 'I told you it wouldn't work'   :lol:   Never did hear what Meade tought of that.

I owe Meade big time. 

 
Last edited:

BGeff

Super Anarchist
3,495
256
Ann Arbor, MI
The memorial yesterday was quite a celebration!  And from now on, Sept 9th is designated in Bay City as Meade Gougeon Day.  Great to see everyone, and also to have Mr. and Mrs. Clean and Baby Clean there.

 
My grandfather taught me how to hunt and fish, my father taught me how to be a moral man, Doc Cady taught me to sail, and Meade Gougeon gave me a career and taught me to be a professional, Jan taught me to think outside the box and build some pretty cool stuff. I've been with the company 22 years in 2017 and had to miss Meade's life celebration because I was working in Port Townsend with Russell and Ashlyn Brown. I was in East Tawas, MI at the annual Blues Festival when I recieved the word that Meade had passed and I started crying and had to excuse myself. I'm proud to have called Meade my boss, my mentor and my friend. 

My best Meade story happened some years ago. I spend a lot of time in the boathouse with community sailing and working on personal projects and noticed a couple Lewmar no. 8 winches laying around. I asked Jan if I could buy them and he said they were Meade's and to ask him. The next day I walked out back to the boathouse and Meade said "You're looking for a couple winches aren't you?" and handed me the 2 winches. I asked him what I owed him and he said, in typical Meade fashion, "Nothing. Go put them to good use". So I come back to the office with my newly acquired free winces and was showing them off when JR Watson (one of the first Tech Advisors in the company having grown up with Meade and Jan and who was responsible for me getting this job 22 years ago) says "What the hell? He just took $20 from me for an old pair of fins for lap swimming!" to which I jokingly replied "I guess he likes me better". 

Working at Gougeon Brothers, Inc has changed my life so much for the better I cannot imagine where I'd be now otherwise. Thanks Meade, Jan and Joel.

 
I'm just a basement shop, DIY hack, no kind of pro.  But I've got to say that the Gougeon's products (and accompanying education, examples, etc.) gave me the ability to take on all sorts of projects that were previously (in my mind) the province of the gods of DIY.  The sort of guys that crafted objects out of thin air using skills passed down from their grandfathers.  That isn't my lineage.  My grandfather kept his world going with bailing wire.  My dad is a duct tape guy.  I made a bunch of messes (still do once in a while), but now my family and friends turn to me when they need something done, because in my little world, I have become that guy.  I take significant pride in being "handy", and spend many, many rewarding hours learning and building now.  It's a huge part of me that was totally born when I started following the Gougeon brothers, years ago. 

Rest in peace, brother.  For every one of the pros you gave a trade, I guarantee there are several regular guys like me that you gave the gift of pride in doing good work.

 

otseg

New member
3
0
I was very sorry to have missed Meade's celebration of life. I traveled to Florida to move a Catamaran from the Keys in anticipation of Hurricane Irma and could not get there in time. Good thing too, as the storm center punched the exact spot the boat was berthed.

Meade would understand.

attachment.php


 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts




Top