Everett A. Pearson — Founding Father of Fiberglass

A day before Christmas, Everett A. Pearson died at the age of 84. The co-founder of Pearson Yachts and Tillotson-Pearson Inc., Everett Pearson was a pioneer in the production of fiberglass boats and played a significant role in bringing affordable production boats to the middle class.

In 1955, Everett and his cousin Clinton Pearson began building fiberglass dinghies in their garage in Seekonk, MA. Fiberglass as a boat-building material was considered to be a new and unproven technology. They were approached to build an auxiliary sailboat which would sell for less than $10,000. Designed by Carl Alberg, the boat became the Triton 28. The boat was launched at the New York Boat Show of 1959 and was an immediate success.

Within a year Pearson Yachts had over 100 employees and expanded their line of yachts, many designed by Alberg. In 1961,  Grumman Industries purchased a majority interest in Pearson Yachts.  In 1969, Everett Pearson, who had left the firm following the Grumman acquisition, founded Tillotson-Pearson Inc. (TPI) with Neil Tillotson. Over the years TPI built many sail and powerboat brands including Freedom, J-Boats, Rampage and Alerion Express. TPI also building wind blades, all-composite bus bodies, SwimEx pools, marine pilings, and many Disney amusement rides and airport people movers. 

In 2002, Everett Pearson received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his creative work with composites from the Composite Fabricator’s Association.

Everett Pearson is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ginny, and their three children Mark, Tracy, and Suzanne, and eight grandchildren. Mark and Suzanne continue to operate the Pearson Pilings and SwimEx family businesses.

In addition to the thousands of boats still sailing which bear the Pearson name, there are still active fleets of the Pearson Triton 28s still sailing on both the East and West Coasts of the US.  

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2 Responses to Everett A. Pearson — Founding Father of Fiberglass

  1. I loved my 1963 Pearson Alberg “Hado”. She was a lovely and robust boat that sailed very well. It was important that she go to a loving new owner which she has! I’ve gone to the “dark side” with a Catalina 36 (which I love).
    RIP Mr. Pearson

  2. Ron Wilkinson says:

    I was around fiberglass boats all my life here on the SoCal coast, of course, and I really did not examine or think about the development of the technology. When I got into my twenties I became a wooden boat aficionado and my friends and I referred to any fiberglass boat as Tupperware or plastic boats. Fiberglass over plywood was OK in our view but traditionally built wooden boats were best. I do feel that way now but it’s a matter of taste or preference.
    There are a lot of ugly fiberglass boats and lots of them around when I was a kid and there were some horrible plywood sailboats. I remember the Pearson’s in the marinas and I sailed on a few, they were nice boats, most or all full keeled, narrow of beam and had nice lines ~ and they sailed well. That’s more important than the wood/plastic debate.