George Otis Jenkins III, who served for 14 years as president of the Bourne Society for Historic Preservation, died February 4. Mr. Jenkins of Pocasset, who was known as Jay, died at the age of 87.
A year-round resident of Wings Neck since 1990, living in the home where he spent the summers of his youth, Mr. Jenkins was an active community volunteer and leader. He was a proponent of saving the Kempton F. Coady School in Bourne Village—a structure built in 1905 that had once served as Bourne High School and then the town junior high school—from demolition to be repurposed for affordable senior housing.
Early in 2011 when members of the preservation group came before selectmen to ask that the historic structure be saved, Mr. Jenkins said that, although his group could not afford to buy the school, it was responsible for contacting the Stratford Capital Group LLC and making them aware of the town’s Request For Proposals for the school.
Stratford officially purchased the vacant building in 2016 from the town and the interior of the former school structure was gutted, and new plumbing, mechanical, electrical, elevator, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire protection was installed, with the US Green Building Council LEED rating system used as a guideline for the project, and the building “sensitively renovated,” per National Park Service and Massachusetts Historic Commission guidelines, leaving the exterior of the building intact, but adding an addition to the structure.
The Stratford Group converted the property in a way that holds onto the history of its use with much of the original school’s structures and fixtures incorporated into the building while still creating a modern living space for tenants. Glass windows and a door that provided the entryway into the principal’s office now frame the doorway into an apartment. Lockers that were used for coats and textbooks maintain the school theme as decorations along the walls. In some places, original brick and tile work has been left untouched and water fountain alcoves have remained intact.
The resulting Coady School Residences were completed in 2017 and contain 58 apartments for residents ages 55 and older, and Mr. Jenkins counted his contribution to that project as his proudest accomplishment for the town.
His work with the Pocasset Village Association and the Bourne Historic Commission continued to occupy his time until his recent resignation from the commission.
Mr. Jenkins developed his love for the ocean and passion for sailing as a third-generation resident of Monument Beach, sailing at the Wenamet Bluffs Yacht Club in Pocasset as a youngster. Later in life he would serve as vice president for many years of both Buzzards Yacht Club and the Buzzards Sailing School, nestled along the shore of Wings Neck, where he oversaw the sailing programs for children and helped to maintain the entire fleet, did fundraising, and took care of many year-round administrative aspects of running the program, including hiring and scheduling instructors.
Born in Brockton, he was the son of George O. Jenkins Jr and Marcia (Godfrey) Jenkins.
He attended Milton Academy, where he was a member of the varsity wrestling, track and cross-country teams. He was recognized for his grit and strength of heart with the Alfred Elliott Award upon graduating from Milton in 1952.
As a student in the Class of 1956 at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, he continued running for the varsity track and cross-country teams, as well as joining an a cappella octet and the Wesleyan Choir, which brought him to Mount Holyoke College for a concert tour. It was there he met Jennifer Margaret Muus, called Margot, of Southern Rhodesia, Africa, and they were married in December 1956 in her hometown of Selukwe.
Employed as sales manager at the George O. Jenkins Company of Bridgewater, Jay Jenkins traveled extensively throughout the nation and the world, selling products used in the shoe and automobile industries. He moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1965 while he was Jenkins Company’s sales coordinator for four years prior to a return to New England, settling in Hingham for the next 21 years.
While he was president of the family business, the company was purchased in the early 1970s by Freudenberg Company of Weinheim, Germany. Mr. Jenkins remained to help establish a new flooring division, and he continued to work for them for 11 years. In 1981 he joined Biltrite Company, starting a new flooring division there, and worked with Biltrite as vice president until his retirement in 1995.
Mr. Jenkins’s dedication to service in his community began early in his working career as a Boy Scout Troop leader and for eight years as a sponsor. In Missouri he recruited and interviewed prospective students for Wesleyan University in the inner city and suburbs, and also led a church youth group. Later he was an active leader in the Hingham Congregational Church and became a trustee of Brockton Hospital.
He and his wife shared their enthusiasm for travel and life-long learning throughout retirement. They explored Africa, Europe, South and Central America, Canada and the United States and sailed with friends up and down the East Coast, into Nova Scotia and around the Caribbean.
While at home Mr. Jenkins served for seven years as a trustee for Wings Neck Trust, and was a steadfast member of the Waterloggers, the Operations Committee and the Social Committee.
His interests in sailing, model shipbuilding and clock repair were compromised by a stroke in June 2019 and he battled two forms of cancer in his last five years.
He leaves his wife of 64 years, Margot Jenkins; their children, Scott Jenkins and his partner, Andi White, of Port Charlotte, Florida, Gail Jenkins Farris and her husband, Jay Farris, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Keith Jenkins and his wife, Marybeth Jenkins, of Hanover; four grandchildren, Kimberley Farris Buckley, Jennifer Farris, Dean Farris and Ellen Jenkins; and extended family.
A private gathering will take place this summer.