James I. Melrose, native Long Islander and mariner, passed away peacefully at home Aug. 6, 2018. He was born in Huntington Nov. 11, 1944, the second of three Melrose boys raised by Edith and Robert Melrose of Lloyd Harbor and Greenport, N.Y.
Jim attended Walt Whitman High School followed by a brief time at Farmingdale University before he entered the workforce and honed his skills in machining and surveying. It was at this time he was to meet his wife-to-be, Midge Ruediger of Cold Spring Harbor, who attended C.W. Post College. Their courtship was interrupted when Jim received notice of being drafted into the Army. After basic training he was assigned to the 109th Maintenance Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, where he rose to the rank of sergeant E-5 while stationed in Vietnam. James and the soon-to-be Mrs. Melrose were married just over a month after his homecoming in 1968.
In 1968, combining his mechanical skills and love for the sea, Jim started his dock building company, Melrose Marine Service Inc., working out of Jacobson Shipyard in Oyster Bay. Originally started as a one-man operation, he turned it into a marine construction company that would build and service marine structures on the North Shore of Long Island for the next 50 years. In 1973 he built his 45-foot work tug, Dragon, which has been a fixture of the Huntington/Oyster Bay/Manhasset and Greenport areas for the last 45 years.
By 1980, Jim relocated to Greenport, his home until his death. He continued to work in Suffolk, Nassau, Connecticut and upstate New York. In the early 1990s, there was an opportunity for Jim and Melrose Marine Service to expand into the field of environmental cleanup. Jim used this opportunity to fabricate the equipment, unavailable at the time, including water filtration systems and a suction dredge for underwater vacuuming of areas contaminated by heavy industrial metals. He formed Seaway Environment Technologies with Chesner Engineering, through the help of NYSERDA, to clean sites such as the Hudson River. Collaboration with Cornell Institute would see this technology at work in a mock application at their Cedar Beach, Southold, outpost during the early 2000s.
Retirement would allow Jim to tinker in his shop on Albertson Lane and get back to sailing. Jim and his wife could be seen regularly sailing out of Sterling Harbor or rowing his Whitehall or in their two-man kayak.
Jim also liked to share his knowledge, helping friends, and to contribute to local waterfront programs. He was also known around Greenport for his school board attempt in 1993, which he lost, but his campaign to get computers into the school was not in vain.
Jim is survived by his wife of 50 years, Midge; three sons, Eric and Steven, both of Greenport, and David, of Brooklyn; David’s wife, Jodie; and their daughter, Ava.
An informal celebration of Jim’s life will be held at Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 3 to 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C. 20090.
Arrangements were entrusted to Horton-Mathie Funeral Home in Greenport.
This is a paid notice.