Malcolm L. Jewell

Malcolm Leslie Jewell, 87, of Fisher Rd., Bowdoinham, Maine died Tuesday, April 15 at Mid Coast Memorial Hospital in Brunswick after a brief illness. He was surrounded by family members at the time of his death.

Malcolm (variously known as Mal and MLJ to his friends) was born on April 24, 1920 in Quincy, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter he and his parents, John Poland Jewell and Bertha Fisher Irish Jewell, moved to Wellesley where they spent the next several decades. Malcolm graduated from Wellesley High School in the class of 1938. He recalled a youthful gift of a movie projector and remembered charging neighborhood children straight pins as an admission fee to come view his collection of films. Malcolm had an egg route in Wellesley, delivering fresh eggs from the Sedgeley farm in Bowdoinham which were mailed up to Wellesley each week. From an early age the youthful Malcolm, sheparding his younger sister Elizabeth, would take the train to Bowdoinham to spend school vacations with his grandparents, Dr. Isaac C. Irish and Gramma Josie Fisher Irish. Dr. Irish commanded a dry wit and in later life Malcolm enjoyed sharing anecdotes of his grandfather’s stories with the younger family generations. In the summer the whole family would move to the family farm on Fisher Road, a farm built by great grandfather T.W. Fisher in the 1840s. Visit to read the early farm history. These early experiences on the farm, haying with horse and wagon and swimming in the copious feldspar quarries located on the property, would make an indelible impression on Malcolm—the farm was his most beloved location on earth. One summer at age 14, Malcolm broke his leg. He employed his convalescence in teaching himself to play the guitar, adding the harmonica and a talent for yodeling as time went on. He loved the early cowboy songs, the style of Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Ritter, and learned Chisholm Trail, Wabash Cannon Ball and multiple verses of many other songs over the years. Malcolm developed a fascination for motors, at one time collecting 6 automobile carcasses in the backyard in Wellesley and working tirelessly at disassembling and reassembling the machines. This led to the construction of his first tractor built on an early Ford chassis and linking two transmissions end-to-end. His love of tractors, particularly bringing older tractors into operating usage, remained a lifelong fascination. In 1938 Malcolm enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, the third generation of Jewell men to attend Bates. There he met Lucille Leonard of Providence, RI who would become Mrs. Jewell in August of 1942. Malcolm earned a double major in Chemistry and Physics, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1942. Oldest child, daughter Nina Lee, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first home of the newlyweds where Malcolm had his first employment after graduation. This ended shortly with his drafting into the Navy in 1943. His three years of service took place on the east coast serving as a Navy scientist and radar instructor. Immediately upon his discharge in 1946 he gathered Lucille, Nina Lee and newly born son Stephen Putnam and, in chilly April 1946, they moved to Keewaydin Farm where he spent the next 62 years. Malcolm became a research chemist at Bates Manufacturing mill in Lewiston. His daily commute coincided with John Gould’s daily radio broadcast (the Gould farm was located enroute in Lisbon) and Malcolm would routinely honk his horn as he drove by, a signal to Lucille who would be tuned in to the Gould broadcast back on the farm. Malcolm’s proudest achievement at Bates was the development of “disciplined fabric”, the world’s first no-iron cotton. Soon the Jewell women were eagerly sewing with some of the early samples of silky wash-and-wear cotton. In 1957 Malcolm joined the research division of S.D. Warren Company in Westbrook, Maine. His next 33 years were spent in both the “wet end” and the coating labs at S. D. Warren. He was very proud of the fine high quality papers that were S. D. Warren’s hallmark. Back in Bowdoinham, Malcolm joined the Village Masonic Lodge, serving in various leadership capacities at the Lodge over the next several decades (his 59th year of membership was 2007). He discovered a penchant for both bookkeeping and investing, serving as the Village Lodge treasurer for many years. At S. D. Warren he helped found the “Chowder and Marching Society” which followed the NAIC investment club guidelines. There and through study of the Value Line Survey, he developed (and was still refining) his stock picking skills. These same skills would be utilized at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick, Maine, where he and Lucille both actively served and worshipped for many years. The Jewell family was still growing. In 1949 Jeffrey Fisher Jewell was born (deceased in 1950), Katherine Jewell Fiori was born in 1951 and Jeremy Chase Jewell was born in 1953 (deceased 1967). At first the farm was a small dairy operation and Lucille had a weekly butter route. Gradually Malcolm switched to beef cattle and “Jewell’s Genuine Barnyard Dressing” made its debut. As the children grew up, haying became a major summer occupation for all, and a variety of Bowdoinham youngsters and Jewell grandchildren remember their summers of hard work and responsibility harvesting bales on many Bowdoinham fields. Getting your tractor’s driving permit was a major rite of passage for the youthful workers. Serving on the Bowdoinham School Board, it was a proud moment in 1955 when Malcolm helped Bowdoinham celebrate the dedication of the new Bowdoinham Community School. The school was built with volunteer labor and a unique community funding program, an annual 4th of July Barbecue. Bowdoinham owned the school outright and debt free in just 7 years. Malcolm loved his role of selling “sodie pop” at the Mason’s annual booth. His deep belief in the importance of education led Malcolm to serve on the investment committee for the Brunswick Area Student Aid Scholarship committee. He was still a member of the board at the time of his death. The preservation of the farm for posterity became an important objective during Malcolm’s later years. When he and Lucille granted a conservation easement of Keewaydin Farm’s fields and woodlands to the Maine Farmland Trust in 2004, they were joined by the whole family in rejoicing for the permanent protection of their beloved piece of Maine (see story at Fall 2004 newsletter archives). In later years Malcolm and Lucille enjoyed an annual vacation trip with their close friends Tom and Virginia Hayden (fellow Bates ‘42 classmates). Other than these explorations to Europe, out West and to the Caribbean, Malcolm did not like to leave the farm. He earned the family nickname of “The World’s Most Flexible Man” as an ironic reference to his preference for home. Malcolm was quick to embrace both the television age (recording favorite programs like Matlock) and the computer age. Writing programs (learning computer languages and systems), using e-mail for family contact, researching stocks on line—all of these were sources of absorbing interest. On the Sunday before his death, Malcolm had 23 windows open on his new computer. He and old friend Russell Hewett entered cribbage tournaments in Winthrop, Maine. His cribbage skills were honed with daily cutthroat competition with Lucille. Malcolm and Lucille also shared a love of a good mystery story. In later years Malcolm referred to himself as a curmudgeon. He certainly had a gift for the appropriate aphorism for every situation. He believed “Waste is Sin”, “You can’t run a powerful machine with no fuel” (his belief that regular meals were necessary. Malcolm enjoyed good food but said that as long as he had peanut butter and crackers he would never starve), “Safety first, last and always”, and, from Dr. Irish, “We will do the best we can.” His quick wit and Yankee ingenuity stayed with him to the end. Malcolm was predeceased by his sister Elizabeth Jewell Ballard and his sons Jeffery Fisher Jewell and Jeremy Chase Jewell. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lucille Leonard Jewell, his children Nina Mendall and spouse Peter Mendall of Litchfield, Maine, Stephen Jewell and spouse Patricia Braley Jewell of Barre, MA, and Katherine Fiori and partner James Tierney of Auburn, ME, grandchildren Kimberley Mondonedo and spouse Jude Mondonedo, Peter L. Mendall and spouse Amy Mendall, Nicholas Fiori and partner Amanda Hoover, Andrew Fiori and spouse Melissa Fiori, Emily Ziomek and spouse Dan Ziomek, Carrie Jewell and partner Mark Conlon, and Susanna Jewell and spouse James E. Barrett IV, and great grandchildren, J’rae Mendall, Sam Max Mondonedo, Calen Mendall, Sahja Mendall, Tate Mendall, Cassidy Howard, Aiden Fiori, Sebastian Fiori, Nathaniel Ziomek and James Edward Barrett V (born the day Malcolm died). A memorial service and reception will be held at the Unitarian Universalist church on Pleasant Street in Brunswick at 2:00 on Sunday, April 20th. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund in Malcolm’s memory.