John Edward Suminsby

WENHAM, MASS. – John Edward Suminsby, 94, of Wenham died unexpectedly at home on Jan. 16, 2017, just two weeks shy of his 95th birthday. He was born in Northeast Harbor on Jan. 29, 1922, the firstborn child of Howell and Virgie Suminsby. He grew up in Northeast Harbor, graduating high school in 1940, and then attended the University of Maine, Orono, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics. After graduation, he worked for 47 years at General Electric as an aircraft instrumentation engineer, earning several patents on his designs of gyroscopes and other aircraft instrumentation.

While working at General Electric, he met Doris Fleming of Swampscott, Mass., whom he married on May 8, 1956. After living briefly in Marblehead, they moved to North Beverly, where they had a daughter and a son, then finally moved to Wenham in 1965. John and Doris enjoyed 62 wonderful years of marriage.

Mr. Suminsby was a hardworking engineer, dedicated to his family, his church and community service through the Wenham Council on Aging. He was a Venture (Explorer) Scout Leader, and an avid skier and hiker — he climbed all the 4,000-footers of New Hampshire three times (twice in the winter). Marital pressure eventually forced John to “retire” from winter climbing in the White Mountains at the young age of 65. John was a lifelong tennis player and, for a time, a ranked member of the U.S. Tennis Association. For years he hosted tennis tournaments in his backyard clay court and enjoyed mixed doubles into his late 80s. John was very active within the Second Congregational Church serving as church historian and deacon for several years.

He was predeceased by his father and mother, Howell and Virgie Suminsby, formerly of Northeast Harbor, his sister Elizabeth (Suminsby) Petratis, formerly of Canton Center, Conn., and his brother Robert Eddy Suminsby, formerly of Northeast Harbor. He is survived by his loving wife, Doris (Fleming) Suminsby, of Wenham; daughter Linda (Suminsby) Cousens of Newburgh; son J. David Suminsby and his wife, Juliana (Johnson), of Wenham; as well as three grandchildren; Jadrien Cousens of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Arielle Cousens of Readville, and Jack Suminsby of Wenham, along with several nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be held at the Wenham Cemetery, Main Street, Wenham, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. A memorial service with reception afterward will be held at the Second Congregational Church, 35 Conant St., Beverly, on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. Arrangements by the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot St., Beverly. Memorial donations may be made in John E. Suminsby’s name to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy St., Boston, MA 02108 or via their website Information, directions, condolences at


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