Out of Gloucester


March 19, 1936

Fisherman Who Saved Others Dies on Banks

George Painter, 63 years, of Somerville, the hardy giant fisherman who saved his dorymates when their vessel sch. Norumbega was rammed and sunk by a four-masted coaster off the Delaware Capes 30 years ago, died with his "boots" on Tuesday afternoon when he collapsed from heart failure on Brown's Bank, while a member of the fishing crew of the Boston sch. Shamrock, Capt. Fred Wilson, it was learned this morning when the Shamrock arrived at Boston Fish pier, her flag at half-mast in honor of the departed member.

Painter, who fished out of this port for years, is well-known and equally as popular in this port, being rated up and down the waterfront as a sterling fisherman and of indomitable courage.  Although he has been ailing for some time, and had had serious ill turns before, warning him of his inevitable fate, he refused to surrender, but kept right on fishing, even going single dory fishing, just to pursue the life he had desired ever since his childhood days in Harbor Breton, N. F., where he was born.  He is survived by his widow in Somerville.

Edward Harding, the veteran outfitter for fishermen, with a place on Rogers street, remembers Painter well for he was not only brought up with him in Newfoundland, but also was one of the crew of the salt fishing sch. Spencer F. Bayer, Capt. John McCormack, out of Gloucester when at St. Peters, N. F., being short a man, the skipper shipped young Painter, a giant for his age.  Painter on arrival in Gloucester shipped in the sch. Louisa Pollard, Capt. Rodney MacNeil, in the winter of 1892, his first year in America and there are fishermen who still remember how he came to the wharf to board his ship, minus a pair of oil trousers, asking in his Newfoundland style of talking. "Has anybody got a pair of oil trousers for I, sir?" and though some were amused at the moment, all in short order grew to admire Painter, not only for his great strength, but for his warmth of heart and kind word for everyone.

His bravery and power reached a peak at the time the sch. Norumbega, Capt. John A. McKinnon, was rammed and sunk by the four-masted coasting sch. Edith L. Allen, out of Philadelphia, shortly after midnight, Tuesday morning, April 24, 1906, off Fenwick Island, Delaware, when the Allen, a 969-ton vessel, was in ballast proceeding south to load iron, while the Norumbega was engaged in southern mackerel seining.

The night was clear.  The Allen struck the Norumbega, so that the bow of the coaster rammed right through the side of the seiner, causing the seiner's foremast to break in three pieces, and catching the bowsprit of the coaster in the wreckage, so that the two craft were for a brief time, locked together.  A mad scrambling to reach the deck of the coaster followed.

Painter was first to jump the distance form the Norumbega, to the Allen, and it looked to all as if the rest of the crew would be carried to their deaths as the Norumbega, rapidly filling and sinking went to her watery grave.  Painter, however quickly grasped the situation, and helped by others had a dory lashed to the side of the Allen, scrambled into the dory and reaching at his arm's length by sheer strength and muscle, caught several of the crew as they jumped from the Norumbega's rigging to the Allen.  Several of the crew gave credit to Painter for having saved their lives in this manner.  It was a nervy stunt and could easily have meant Painter's life if ever he slipped from the lashed dory.

Painter was known by skippers as an "A-1" man to have in any type of fishing.  He sailed with Capt. Robert Porper in the sch. Cavalier, halibuting, with Capt. John J. Matheson in sch. Saladin, with Capt. Wallace Parsons, Capt. Charlie Peterson last Fall in sch. Alpar, and with countless others.  He resided for years at the residence of Michael Kelly, Warner street, in between fishing trips.


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