By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — A Salem man died this week while on a fishing expedition in northern New Hampshire.
N.H. authorities say 71-year-old John Cornish lost his footing as he launched his boat into the Connecticut River Wednesday morning in Colebrook, a town on the Vermont/New Hampshire line, not far from the Canadian border.
Lora Cornish, his wife of 48 years, said he passed away doing something he loved with his longtime friend George Trainor of Peabody.
John Cornish had fished his entire life, said his wife, and he and Trainor often went north on fishing trips. This week was not the first time they’d been to far northern New Hampshire.
The two friends would “go wherever the fish were biting,” Lora Cornish said. “... I’m glad (his passing) was doing something he enjoyed.”
In a press release, the N.H. Department of Fish and Game called the incident “a tragic accident.”
According to the department, Cornish was launching his boat for a day of fishing when the boat began to drift down river. Cornish, wearing hip waders, entered the river to retrieve the boat.
“When he began wading in the river, he lost his footing, fell and began to swim after the boat. Soon after this, Cornish lost consciousness and was pulled from the river by a friend,” the department said in a press release.
The friend that pulled him from the river was Trainor, Lora Cornish said yesterday.
“He’s a wonderful man,” she said.
Emergency crews, including local police and fire, N.H. State Police and Fish and Game Department conservation officers, responded and attempted “lifesaving measures.” Cornish was transported to Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook, N.H., via ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.
As of yesterday, Cornish’s exact cause of death was yet to be determined, said Kevin Bronson, the fish and game officer investigating the incident.
Cornish’s funeral is today. In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters, Jennifer, of Danvers, and Lisa Street; son-in-law Gary, of Stratham, N.H.; and two grandchildren, Holly and Colin.
Before retirement, Lora Cornish said her husband was a maintenance man at ITW Devcon in Danvers for many years.
He loved to walk and ride his bike around their Willow Avenue neighborhood, as well as read his Bible and pass Bibles out to neighbors, she said.
He volunteered for many years at Salem and Middleton jails and would play his guitar and host a Bible study with prisoners, Lora Cornish said.
The Cornishes and the Trainors also used to sing for residents at local nursing homes, she said.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.