A graduate of Brooklin High School, George Eaton retired from the Navy in 1991 and returned home to Brooklin in 1995. A member of Brooklin Lodge No. 733, International Order of Odd Fellows, he is the president of the Brooklin Keeping Society, which operates a museum in the same building as the town office. PHOTO BY BRIAN SWARTZ

There’s no port like home for Navy vet George Eaton

Having visited foreign shores during his 23 years spent in the Navy, George Eaton returned home almost a quarter-century ago to his native Brooklin, “a great town to live in,” he said. “There’s something about it,” yet “you can’t put your finger on it. It’s a wonderful town.”

The Brooklin town office occupies the grammar school where Eaton attended “the first five grades, three grades on one side and two on the other, and kindergarten.” He then went to Brooklin High School for grades 6 to 12.

Brooklin High fielded “a basketball team (the Bears) that had five starters and one substitute. I was the center,” Eaton said. “We had 17 students in the four grades in the high school. We had the largest class, six of the 17.”

After graduating, he “went to Husson College when it was still in downtown Bangor” and studied accounting for two years. Joining the Navy in 1968, he trained as a yeoman, which is administrative work.

“I became a flag yeoman. I worked for eight different admirals all over the United States, the Philippines, Japan. I had a great time; the work was good, had a lot of different places to visit,” Eaton said.

Retiring with 23 years service in 1991, he then worked as a civil service employee for three years in Pensacola, Fla. With older siblings “having health problems,” he returned home to Brooklin in 1995. Hired “as a caretaker here in town, I’ve been working there ever since” for a head caretaker who has worked more than 50 years for the same family, he said.

Eaton lives in Brooklin with his wife, Marsha, and has a stepson.

Not as well known elsewhere in Maine, the International Order of Odd Fellows has three “very active lodges” on the Blue Hill Peninsula and another in Stonington, according to Eaton. He joined Brooklin Lodge No. 733, from which Jerry Gray recently served as the grand master of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

“This is the first time this has happened for one of our lodge members,” said Eaton, the Lodge 733 treasurer.

The Odd Fellows “try to help out wherever we can,” he said. “We do community service the best we can. It is a great organization.”

Eaton also belongs to the Brooklin Keeping Society, formed in the mid-1990s after the split of the joint Brookin-Sedgwick Historical Society. Charged with “maintaining the artifacts and historical records of Brooklin,” the Keeping Society operates a wonderfully detailed museum attached to the town office, said Eaton, the society’s president.

The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays from late May to early October. Reflecting Brooklin’s maritime heritage, ships and coastal activity dominate many displays, the Keeping Society has thousands of photographs of the town; many photos are already digitized.

Volunteers keep the society going. “There are many people who have done fantastic work” for it, Eaton said.

That volunteerism extends to other community organizations. Eaton praised “the Fire Department, the incredible group of volunteers there who are committed to it. They are an amazing group.”

Eaton noted that “we have a very outstanding church group, a good group of folks” at the First Baptist Church, located across Bay Road from the town office. “I grew up in that church and was baptized” at the North Sedgwick Baptist Church, he said.

Brooklin “is changing,” with people moving here from elsewhere and bringing their skills and talents with them, Eaton said. “As a community, we are still very close. People come together … it’s amazing what they do for each other.”

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