Everett A. Pearson, the leading pioneer of production fiberglass boat production, crossed the bar this week. He was 84. Pearson Yachts and its successors were known mostly for their sailboats, but ventured into power with the stylish True North series, represented above by the True North 34.
Pearson was the co-founder of Pearson Yachts, the first company to build production fiberglass boats, earning him the title "grandfather of fiberglass production." In 1968, he continued his boatbuilding and fiberglass work with the start of Tillotson-Pearson Inc. (TPI). TPI built wind blades, all-composite bus bodies, test track vehicles for Disney Imagineering, the branches on the Animal Kingdom Tree of Life, numerous other products, and the most well-known, J Boats.
It was the widespread adoption of fiberglass as pioneered by Pearson that made recreational boating affordable to the World War II generation and their children.
In 1955, cousins Clinton and Everett Pearson began building fiberglass dinghies in their garage on County Street in Seekonk, Mass. The fiberglass material and their methods of construction was brand new and untested. However, Tom Potter from American Boat Building approached the Pearsons with a project to build an auxiliary sailboat that would sell for under $10,000. Naval architect Carl Alberg was given the task of designing the boat. The result was the Triton 28 sailing auxiliary. The first boat was built in the cousins' garage, in time for the 1959 New York Boat Show.
In 1959, the Triton 28 was launched at the New York Boat Show. The cousins had to borrow money to pay for the transport of the boat from their garage to the show. The boat proved to be a hit, and the cousins had deposits for 17 orders by the end of the show. To raise the capital to acquire facilities to meet the demand, the cousins made Pearson Yachts public in April 1959. Upon returning to Rhode Island, the demand for the Triton 28 remained so strong that the cousins purchased the old Herreshoff Yard to expand their production site. Pearson Yachts introduced a number of new models, most of which were also designed by Carl Alberg. By the end of the year, the newly founded Pearson Yachts had over one hundred employees and was turning out nearly one boat per day.
An avid sailor, he competed in local yacht club and ocean racing, and was a member of the New York Yacht Club. He also enjoyed tennis and in later years playing golf at Wildcat Run Golf and Country Club in Estero, FL.
Warren, RI and Estero, Fla., passed away Sunday, December 24, 2017, in the Hope Hospice Center in Providence. He was the husband of Virginia Bourne Pearson, to whom he had been married for 62 years.
Born in Pawtucket, he was the son of the late Peter S. and Elin M. (Larson) Pearson. Everett was a graduate of Pawtucket East High School, received his Bachelor's Degree in Economics in 1955 from Brown University, where he was Captain of the Football Team and later a member of the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, Mark E. Pearson and his wife, Tracy, of Warren, Suzanne P. Vaughan and her husband, Daniel, of Plymouth, MA, and Sandra L. Marston and her husband, Thomas, of S. Bethlehem, NY; eight grandchildren (Kelly, Hannah, Nicholas, Amanda, Peter, Ellen, Emily and Everett), and many nieces and nephews.