George Williams Sawyer, Jr. – “Tom”– died suddenly of a cardiac event at his home on the morning of Sunday November 12, 2023. Beloved teacher and coach, devoted friend and mentor, and 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 an eager spirit, keen eye, and the will to amuse. Tom spent his early childhood in Maine delighting his family and making fast friends with a posse of little boys his own age. He enjoyed throwing acorns at garbage trucks, smashing cartons of yogurt in driveways, and racing his elderly, wheelchair-bound neighbor down the street of his Cape Elizabeth home. When the family moved to New Hampshire, he entered the third grade at Wilkins Elementary School, where he made friends he would keep for the rest of his life.
In the sixth grade, Tom threatened to run away from home if his parents did not allow him to play football with his peers. His antics worked, and it was soon clear that Tom was a natural athlete with a character perfectly suited to sportsmanship and a sense of fair play.
Tom wrestled and played football at Milford Area Senior High School, where his leadership skills became apparent. He graduated in 1987 and went on to attend the University of New Hampshire, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and later a Master’s Degree in Education. It was here that he met the absolute 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 reveled in his role as a parent, encouraging his own sense of curiosity, achievement, and integrity in his children. He was devoted to his girls, loved them deeply, and taught them how to be better people.
The year they were married, Tom and Jolene both started teaching at Souhegan High School. Tom was excited to coach Souhegan Sabers on the wrestling mat and football field and did so for many years. His own daughters preferred soccer, and though he would be the first to admit he knew nothing of the sport, Tom began to coach his girls recreationally, and later, at Milford Middle School. His athleticism, strong work ethic, and natural leadership style culminated in the team’s first championship win in 2014, followed by many more. As a coach, he taught hundreds of children how to lead lives informed by the best aspects of sports.
Somehow, he made an even bigger impact in the classroom. Tom approached history through storytelling, and in doing so he made his classes exciting and relevant for his students. He was a thoughtful, inclusive, and dedicated teacher who found a way to make his kids feel known and cared for. By his 28th year of teaching, Tom had taught two generations, in some cases, the children of previous students.
Once their children grew older, Jolene, an avid traveler and Spanish speaker, planned many adventures. While away, Tom always had his family back home in mind as he narrated their travels through daily
emails. He was a strong writer whose passion, humor, and attention to detail made people feel like they were with him.
Tom made a lasting impact on everyone he met and will be greatly missed.
Tom was predeceased by his father, George W. Sawyer. He is survived by his wife Jolene, his two daughters Meg and Sarah, his mother Nancy Sawyer, sister Susan Sawyer and her husband Ken Pelton, brother Matthew Sawyer, his 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 the Smith & Heald Funeral Home in Milford. A more private service for family and friends will be held at Hampshire Hills on Sunday from 1:00-5:00 PM.
To honor the deep sense of compassion Tom embodied, in lieu of flowers, please send donations to World Central Kitchen, an organization that provides meals to communities in crisis around the globe.
Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com