John William Mercier of Edgartown passed away in Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on Nov. 6, 2023, after years of a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.
John was born on Feb. 16, 1943, to Herman and Alene Mercier in Hartford, Conn., and raised in Swanton, Vt.
All who met John instantly found him to be a strong, good-humored person. Those who had the good fortune of getting to know him better knew a man of many mastered talents living an incredibly dynamic life. Instilled with a passion for the great outdoors while growing up in the mountains of Vermont, John loved hunting and fishing. And because he did nothing in half-measure, John would catch his bait and sell it, make his own lures and arrows, load his own bullets, build and paint his own decoys. He gutted, cleaned, and sold his fish, dragged and butchered his hunts, dried and sold his pelts and furs. He was a completely self-reliant man who sought to understand all aspects of any task at hand.
In his younger years, John was active in baseball, basketball, and football all the way through college, even playing in the Little League World Series. This love for sports and health sparked his pursuit of a physical education degree at Ithaca College, and his first career as a PE teacher. Never one to miss out on an opportunity, John enjoyed spending his college summers dynamiting the mountains of northern Vermont for the state’s construction of Highway I-89.
John’s love for teaching grew, and he began ski instructing at a few of the local resorts in Vermont. From there, his interests in entrepreneurship would grow, fostered by a start in construction, which would become a lifelong passion, as well as partial ownership of an après-ski spot called the Last Run Cafe. For years he split his time between ski instructor, bartender, chef, and builder, changing hats between seasons. He ran crews building and selling condos at Bolton Valley, Haystack, and Stratton ski resorts.
In the mid-Seventies, after a life spent in the frozen north, a new opportunity arose on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. John became co-owner of the Ocean View Restaurant in Oak Bluffs. Tending bar filled his love for entertaining people, and John formed deep, long-lasting, connections in the community. Taking advantage of his new surroundings, John began saltwater fishing more frequently, and even started lobster fishing commercially, all the while still swinging a hammer and building his own home in West Chop between shifts. Somehow amid all of this, he still found time to earn his pilot’s license and buy a Cessna Warrior II, which he flew for years all throughout the Cape and islands.
Ready for the next chapter, John moved back to Vermont temporarily, where he set aside his many interests and focused on building. He built a multitude of homes throughout Vermont, many of which he designed and drew blueprints for himself. In true John form, much of the custom work was performed on his own, without subbing out many tasks. From foundation to framing to finish millwork, his creations were thought out step by step, and executed with excellence, precision, and attention to detail. The term jack-of-all-trades sums John up, but his work was true mastery in every craft. John worked well into his seventies at his lifelong craft. His energy and enthusiasm amazed everyone he knew.
The mid-’90s housing boom on Martha’s Vineyard brought him back to Island living, this time to Edgartown. Here he continued building beautiful custom homes all over the Island. Finally back on the water, he bought his boat, Huck’s Finn. Being on the water was bliss for John, whether it was fishing, clamming, or scalloping. He embraced Island life and all it had to offer. There was nothing more he loved than introducing friends and loved ones to these hobbies.
He will be remembered as a man who celebrated life. His work ethic was unmatched, and an inspiration to us all. His positive outlook on life never wavered, and his enthusiasm for the next challenge never diminished. We will all miss the way he lit up when telling a story, whether it was over a cold G&T at his kitchen table, or down on the docks, fueled by the salt air.
John was the beloved husband of Lex Roberts Mercier. They shared decades of adventure, travel, love, and family life. John is survived by his three children, son Jeff Mercier and his wife Moiria of Martha’s Vineyard, daughter Courtney Mercier of Stowe, Vt., and son Sam Mercier and his wife Elyse of Sandisfield. He was Papa to his six grandchildren, Kaden Mercier, Avery Fastman, and Tully, Brea, Weylan, and Radley Mercier.
To honor John, his family asks people to join them at their home, 85 Martha’s Road, Edgartown, on Friday, Nov. 17, or Saturday, Nov. 18, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.