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The hunter, the skier is back from the hills,
The fisherman home from the stream.
Stanley James Jennings was born on April 26, 1942, in Newport, Rhode Island. His parents, George B. and Ruby V. (Hatcher) Jennings were both natives of Nova Scotia. During his boyhood, the family made many trips to visit their Canadian families.
Stan was a typical boy of the era: floating log rafts in the nearby pond, swimming in the ocean, and ice skating in the marshy areas in winter. He was always the protective older brother to his sister, Barbara; never too far away or too busy to help. (When she went away to college, her roadside assistance mandate was “Call Stan if north of Boston.”) With his friends, he raced cars around Ocean Drive. He learned from his father how to build and maintain houses and cars. At 14 he started working in a laundry that definitely did not follow child labor laws.
He graduated from Rogers High School in 1959 and the University of Rhode Island in 1964. At URI he obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering and his life-long best friend, John Foster. His first professional job was at Naval Station Newport, where he had worked during the summers of his last two years of college. He soon fulfilled one life dream by purchasing a 1965 burgundy Corvette Stingray.
In 1967, Stan joined the Army. Although originally scheduled to go to officer training to join the Corps of Engineers, a series of delays led him to switch to the Science and Engineering Division where he remained an enlisted man rather than an officer. He also was sent to Alaska rather than Vietnam.
In September of that year, he flew home to marry Virginia G. Johnston. As they drove to Alaska, Stan had chances to demonstrate his engineering skills. On the second night of their honeymoon, he dismantled much of the front of the car in the parking lot of their motel to identify (in the bathtub) and fix a radiator leak. After driving incident free the 1182 mostly dirt miles of the Canadian section of the Alcan Highway, just a few miles into Alaska where the snow-covered paved road had been plowed past the edge of the road, the car slipped over the embankment. Stan built a stairway to the top, jacking the precariously balanced car up layer after layer of logs and branches.
They rented a trailer on a 160-acre homestead two miles down a dirt road, several miles from Fort Greeley where Stan was stationed. A buffalo herd that had been established after World War II lived nearby and visited often. In the spring migration the road and fields on each side were covered with geese.
With the boat and motor they had inherited from a friend who returned to the Lower 48, they explored the Clearwater River area. Stan hunted; moose, caribou, and spruce hens filled their wanigan, feeding both the couple and the people across the road on an adjoining homestead. Stan went alone on a week-long bear hunt, returning with a beautiful silver-tipped grizzly rug. They fished year-round. Every free weekend, they traveled throughout Alaska and into the Yukon Territory. A tent became their most common accommodation on their journeys for years to come.
Although both loved Alaska, when Stan’s military life was over, they returned to the east coast and family. Still, they sought an area that more closely resembled their first home. With an engineering job at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, they settled in southern Maine. They learned to ski, continued to fish. They harvested clams and mussels.
For several years he had a noncommercial lobster license. When Stan did something, he did it wholeheartedly. With his buddy, Joel Long, he netted and salted barrels of alewives for bait. The two men learned to knit the inner cages that hold the lobster. When a huge oak tree fell on Joel’s property, they spliced it up and made their own traps.
In 1979, Stan and Genie converted a three-story Victorian building into The Candleshop Inn, a 10-guestroom bed and breakfast in York Beach. There they spent their summers for the next 20 years. In the early ‘90s Genie began teaching skiing at Sunday River in Newry, Maine. The family now spent winters in the mountains and summers at the beach. During a RIF, Stan was able to take an early retirement from the Shipyard. He became a part-time ski instructor.
Stan loved traveling. While at the Shipyard, he was sent to Spain and Scotland. Each time he and Genie took the opportunity to enjoy those countries and backpack around Europe when the jobs were finished. First-born Dawn turned one in Copenhagen. After selling the inn, the 2000’s saw many cross-country trips, with occasional forays into Mexico and Canada. They had a magnificent time flyfishing in Belize.
He was a devoted father, involving his two daughters, Dawn and Amy, in interesting things. They learned to ski and to fish. They made maple syrup. Every summer he took them to his friends’ Camp Waddy on Second Chain Lake, where he went deer hunting. They caught white perch and pickerel, swam, picked gallons of wild high-bush blueberries. They spent a week canoeing down the Allagash River. He took them to see train wrecks and chase hurricanes. Once a year they would get up while it was dark, climb the rocks across the street from the inn, and watch the sunrise. They postponed the trip until late August when the sun rose a little later in the morning. When they waited too long one year and had to move home to Eliot for school, he brought them back to the ocean the first weekend to watch the sunrise. Traditions are important. He taught them how to change a tire, check the oil, and that they could always call him when they had a problem.
Despite the beginning intrusion of Parkinson’s Disease, he was an involved grandfather. In addition to teaching them how to cast, the two older grandchildren were able to participate in stocking trout in southern Maine. He took time to float twigs through culverts and hurry to the other side to see them reappear. He let them stand in front of him to steer the boat. On Grandpa’s last boat trip with them, each of the three grandchildren hooked a bass at the same time creating a tumultuous memory that always brings a smile.
Hunting and fishing were Stan’s passions, and he worked to ensure their continuation for generations to come. He enjoyed an annual trip to Nebraska to hunt pheasant at friend Gary Spaulding’s homestead. With John and Joel, he went to North Dakota for ducks and geese as well as several moose hunts in northern Maine. He was a decades-long active volunteer with both the South Berwick Rod and Gun Club and Trout Unlimited.
After many horrendous years of battle, Stan succumbed to Parkinson’s Disease. He was a valiant gentleman throughout the struggle. He will be missed terribly by his friends and family. Besides his companion of 63 years and wife of 55, Genie, he leaves his two daughters, Dawn G. Jennings and Amy L. Pratt, son-in-law Jayme Pratt; granddaughter Georgina Pratt, grandsons Owen Stanley Pratt and Andrew Stanley Jennings; sister Barbara A. Jennings DePaul and brother-in-law Bill DePaul.
All his progeny are fishermen and skiers. Had there been time, one or two would likely have become hunters also, following their grandfather into the woods he loved so much.
Stanley’s visitation will take place on WEDNESDAY, August 16th from 4 until 7 PM at ROCHETTE FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, 21 Kinsley Street, Nashua. A graveside service for Stanley will take place on THURSDAY, August 17th at 11 AM at St. Mary’s Cemetery, 324 East Main Street, Portsmouth, RI.