A Remarkable Life
Jack McDevitt, Sr. passed away January 23rd, surrounded by his family and accompanied by the fond thoughts of dozens of his admirers. His passing creates a void in New England’s heavy-duty truck business which can never be filled, but his true legacy lies in the impact he made on so many lives during his long and productive life.
After an executive career with Mack Trucks, Jack Sr founded “Manchester Mack Sales” in 1974. As each of his five sons graduated from college, they proudly joined him in the family business, and it was eventually renamed “McDevitt Trucks” in 2000. Under Jack Sr’s leadership and tutelage, the company grew to five locations in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and is currently the largest heavy-duty truck dealership in New England, and one of the largest in the Northeast.
Jack Sr was associated with Mack Trucks as an employee or dealer for 70 years. But along the way in his career, and due to his insatiable energy, enthusiasm, and optimism, Jack Sr supervised a small empire of companies that dealt with a seemingly impossible assortment of products. Various McDevitt companies sold Volkswagen cars and GMC pickups, construction equipment, marine engines, and electric cogeneration plants. Jack’s sons and managers often joked that we wished he’d take up golf, and give us a rest!
As successful as his business ventures were, they are dwarfed by Jack Sr’s humanity and humility, and it these two traits for which he’ll be most fondly remembered. Jack Sr listened to speakers with an almost childlike interest and enthusiasm, and always peppered them with questions. Speaking with Jack Sr, one felt like he or she was the only person in the world. He began every sentence with “Please,” and finished it with “Thank you.” The ladies were addressed as “Dear” and the men as “Young man.” And, of course, all who knew him will remember his frequent refrains: “Finest kind, Never had it so good, and Never say “Whoa” in a bad place.” Jack Sr was truly the eternal optimist, never had a bad word to say about anyone, and saw the good in all people. He’d refuse compliments, and always deflect them with, “I’ve always been a lucky guy.” One wink from Jack Sr was all that an employee needed for inspiration to do his or her job well.
Jack had a life-long love of the Maine Woods. It started in his youth when his father would take him to spend the summer with a District Fire Warden in the Allagash Region. To get there would require hiking, canoeing and portaging from one lake to another on a team of horses. For over 60 years he shared that love of the woods with family and friends through the ownership of several “Camps”. Fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, four-wheeling or just puttering around camp was Jack’s way of relaxing. One fall not too long ago, Jack’s reason for going to camp for an overnight was to bring back some red and gold Maple leaves for Pauline.
A member of “the Greatest Generation,” Jack Sr fought in the European theater in World War II as a radar operator on a Navy transport ship. Although heartsick by the ravages and destruction of war, he was fiercely proud of having served his country, and loved the camaraderie and brotherhood of his fellow sailors.
The McDevitt Family plans a private family memorial. On May 9th, a public celebration of Jack’s remarkable life will occur at the McDevitt Trucks’ Manchester facility, and all are invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Jack Sr’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, 166 S. River Road #210, Bedford NH 03110, or River Woods Benevolent Fund, 7 River Woods Drive, Exeter NH 03833. Please remember Jack Sr with a kind word for a friend, and especially a stranger, because that’s how he’d like it.
Jack McDevitt, Sr was born on May 12, 1925. He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Pauline, and five sons Jack Jr, Kevin, Brian, Dennis, and Michael, and their respective families and children, and also several great-grandchildren. He is also survived by hundreds of loving employees, customers, and industry representatives. Jack Sr will be terribly missed by all who knew him, but fond memories will live on forever. He was the “Finest Kind.”