George Williams Sawyer, Jr. “Tom”– died suddenly of a heart attack at his home on the morning of Sunday November 12, 2023. A beloved teacher and mentor, devoted friend and mentor, and the ultimate family man, Tom meant the world to all who knew him.
Tom was born in Portland, Maine on May 4, 1969 to Nancy (Kean) and George Williams Sawyer. He had a willing spirit, a keen eye, and a willingness to laugh. Tom spent his childhood in Maine entertaining his family and making close friends with young boys his own age. He enjoyed throwing trash into garbage trucks, smashing yogurt cartons in the streets, and chasing his elderly neighbor in a wheelchair down the street of his home in Cape Elizabeth. After the family moved to New Hampshire, she entered the third grade at Wilkins Elementary School, where she made friends that would last a lifetime.
In the sixth grade, Tom threatened to run away from home if his parents didn’t let him play football with his friends. His tactics worked, and it soon became clear that Tom was a natural athlete with a good athleticism and fair play.
Tom wrestled and played football at Milford Area Senior High School, where his leadership skills were evident. He graduated in 1987 and attended the University of New Hampshire, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and then a Master’s Degree in Education. This is where he met the true love of his life, Jolene Dadah.
Tom and Jolene married in 1997. They settled in Milford and had two beautiful daughters, Meg and Sarah. Tom enjoyed his role as a parent, and he encouraged his children to be curious, creative, and loyal. He was devoted to his girls, loved them deeply, and taught them how to be good people.
The year they got married, Tom and Jolene both started teaching at Souhegan High School. Tom enjoyed coaching the Souhegan Sabers in wrestling and football and did so for many years. His daughters loved soccer, and although he would be the first to admit that he didn’t know much about sports, Tom happily began coaching his girls, and later, at Milford Middle School. His speed, hard work, and natural leadership led to the team’s first win in 2014, followed by many more. As a teacher, he taught hundreds of children how to live a life of learning and the positive aspects of sports.
In a way, he made a big impact in the classroom. Tom approached history through storytelling, and in doing so made his classes interesting and relevant to his students. She was a thoughtful, inclusive, and dedicated teacher who found a way to let her children know and be cared for. By his 28th year of teaching, Tom had taught two generations, sometimes the children of former students.
When their children grew up, Jolene, who loves to travel and speaks Spanish, organized many events. While away, Tom always thought of his family back home as he described their daily adventures
emails. He was a powerful writer whose passion, humor, and attention to detail made people feel like he was with him.
Tom touched everyone he met and will be greatly missed.
Tom was preceded in death by his father, George W. Sawyer. He is survived by his wife Jolene, two daughters Meg and Sarah, mother Nancy Sawyer, sister Susan Sawyer and husband Ken Pelton, brother Matthew Sawyer, wife Donna Sawyer, and many in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews . .
We invite the community to join us on Friday, November 17th from 12:00-2:00 PM & 4:00-6:00 PM at Smith & Heald Funeral Home in Milford. A private service for family and friends will be held at Hampshire Hills on Sunday from 1:00-5:00 PM.
To honor Tom’s great compassion, in lieu of flowers, please send donations to World Central Kitchen, an organization that provides food to needy areas around the world.
Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. To share memories or offer condolences, please visit www.smith-heald.com