Hessel Michigan – With great sadness, we report on the sudden passing of Tommy Mertaugh today.
Tommy was a cornerstone of a much-loved area — Les Cheneaux Islands (Hessel and Cedarville, Michigan). His cultural and financial impact was enormous, primarily through Classic and Antique Boats, a company he started with his family 13 years ago and grew into the region’s largest classic boat restoration and service business.
Through Classic and Antique Boats, Tommy successfully carried on and expanded a family legacy that began over 80 years ago when his grandfather, Gene Mertaugh, became the first Chris-Craft dealer in the country.
Tommy built his business through an intimate familiarity with classic boats since childhood, an insatiable drive to research and learn about details in order to do work right, an ability to attract and retain talented craftsmen, a firm hand and direct involvement with operations, long selfless hours on-site, incredible empathy with customers, and, perhaps above all, a high degree of honesty, fairness, and trustworthiness. Combined, these things took away much, if not all, the apprehension which can come from owning, restoring, and collecting classic and antique boats.
Tommy is survived by his fiancee Wendy, his sisters Erin and Amy, his brother Danny, and his father Jim.
Thanks to his dedication, he is also survived by at least 200 classic and antique boats that will live on for decades — some, for generations — as integral members and memory-makers of Les Cheneaux families.
Our area and the greater classic boating community has lost a great one. For many of us in Les Cheneaux, boating is changed forever. We miss you already Tommy.
Alex Watson, Texx and Matt