Nantucketer John McLaughlin Passes Away At 86

Nantucket Current •

John McLaughlin passed away Friday morning at the age of 86. 

A fixture on the Historic District Commission for more than 50 years, McLaughlin was the unofficial dean of Nantucket architecture and shared his institutional knowledge of the island’s buildings for decades. 

The Korean War veteran was called “Johnny Sunbeam” by some who remembered his days delivering Sunbeam bread around the island in a big blue box truck. 

Last year he was named “commissioner emeritus,” of the HDC, the first lifetime appointment the commission had ever made.

Over his years McLaughlin worked in a number of roles on the island, including as a Ryders Market delivery man; the REA (Railway Express Agency) on-island delivery; and as a Steamship Authority dock worker. 

His favorite pastime, according to his daughter Colleen, was being the "mayor" of the Madaket Mall at the landfill off Madaket Road. 

Beyond the HDC, McLaughlin served on the Board of Selectmen, as it was then called, as well as the Conservation Commission. 

He was a member of the Nantucket VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans, along with the Pacific Club and No. 4s. 

McLaughlin was predeceased by wife Beverly, sister Ester, and parents John and Martha. He leaves behind daughter his Colleen and her husband Ken Murray; granddaughter Gussie Libby, her husband Jason and their daughter (his great-granddaughter) Kaylee. 

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