WEST GARDINER — The dedication of the shooting range Saturday at the West Gardiner Rod & Gun Club suited the man it was being named for — it was warm, low-key and heartfelt.

Former selectman Mert Hickey smiles during a surprise party for him in July 2021 at the West Gardiner town garage. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

About 50 family members and friends gathered at the range to honor Mert Hickey, who died in January. He served his town as selectman for more than three decades, as a school board member, and as someone who was always ready to help.

“Mert was never a public speaker, and he didn’t like being spoken about,” Greg Couture, chairman of the West Gardiner Board of Selectmen, said. “He was a quiet man, an honest man and a thrifty man, I’d guess you’d call it.”

And if he could help the community in any way, said Couture, who served with Hickey on the Board of Selectmen for more than 27 years, Hickey would be there — to donate land, build a boat launch, working with the town’s Historical Society or helping a neighbor.

“If it was for the community, and it would help the community, you would find Mert there,”  he said.

In fact, in Hickey’s obituary came this request: “In lieu of flowers, please do something to contribute to your community.”


In the case of the Rod & Gun Club, Hickey’s contribution was giving a strip of land that made the new shooting range possible.

In 2017, when the club was seeking funding to enclose the shooting range with concrete blocks and a 20-foot-tall earthen berm, it found that to build the berm that high, it needed an additional strip of land.

The club reached out to Hickey, who owned the land around the club, and he agreed to make the land available to the club to complete the earthwork.

Vicki Dill stands at the West Gardiner Rod and Gun Club on July 18. Dill and several other volunteers unveiled a memorial to former West Gardiner selectman Mert Hickey on Saturday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Vicki Dill, a member of the club, said having the taller berm makes the range safer and was critical to the completion of the range.

“We’ve been able to get grants from the (National Rifle Association Foundation) to help build the shooting shack, get the walls up there and anything else we need to maintain that,” she said. “Without that, it was questionable. It was needed and he had no problem helping us.”

The project to create the memorial started earlier this year, initially with a lot of input from club members and later with the focused efforts of the three members of the dedication committee, on which Dill served, along with Scott Treworgy and John Albert.


The memorial is a 6-foot-by 3-foot shadow box built by Albert. The panel was painted with a woods scene by Winthrop artist Terry Mason. On that background is mounted a portrait of Hickey etched in granite and a buck saw Albert donated that Mason also embellished. Inscribed on the memorial is Hickey’s philosophy and advice: “Don’t be a dub.”

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Albert said of the range dedication earlier this month. “It’s a token of our appreciation because we couldn’t have had a 400-yard range without Mert’s property and support. You hear Mert’s name, and Mert is West Gardiner.”

At Saturday’s ceremony, Hickey’s family gathered in front of the memorial for photos, and later the memorial is expected to be installed under cover in a building on the shooting range.

“I’d much rather have Mert still with us than being able to do a dedication,” Albert said. “I wish he was here.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.