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Obituary: Peter Murphy Schell, 72

Jan 14, 2019 06:26AM ● By Theresa Gilman

Peter Murphy Schell

Peter Murphy Schell, the love of Marina Sampas Schell’s life, passed away peacefully after a brief illness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on January 10th. The son of Clarence and Florence Shelnutt, Peter was born in New London, NH., graduated from Hamilton-Wenham High School and from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he majored in Engineering and Sculpture and met Marina. He took additional courses at MIT School of Advanced Visual Studies. At the time of his death, Peter was employed as a Project Engineer at Phoenix Work Stations. Prior to that, he was self-employed in construction-design and was also a construction coordinator for the City of Lowell. Additionally, he taught photography at the University’s Night School.

Peter’s life-long commitment to social justice and civil rights started in the 1960’s with his work for SNCC in Selma and Montgomery AL and across the country on voter registration and other activist initiatives. During this time, he had the honor of meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. who had a big impact on his life.

A boating enthusiast, he had a Captain’s license, participated in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, sailed in the Virgin Islands and Aegean Sea, and spent summers on his sail and power boats at Ring’s Island Marina, Salisbury, MA. Peter particularly enjoyed travel, visiting museums, sculpting, photography, building and wood projects, participating in local fund-raising events, and attending the theater. He was a voracious reader.

In addition to his wife, Peter is survived by his two sisters Judy Shelnutt Brotman and her husband Harvey of Lyme, NH, and Jo Shelnutt Melendy of Enfield, NH. Also by his nieces and nephews Maria and Mateo Melendy, Jennifer and Richie Quevedo, Chris Hilbert, scores of wonderful cousins and friends, his godson Jack Sterling Stenhouse, and his loving cousins Sara Boutselis and Charlie Stenhouse.

His wife Marina will be eternally grateful to the magnificent doctors and nurses at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital.

ARRANGEMENTS: Friends may call on Wednesday, January 16th from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the Dracut Funeral Home, 2159 Lakeview Avenue, Dracut, MA 01826. Funeral services will be private with burial at Westlawn Cemetery. Those wishing may make contributions in his memory to the Charles and Mary Sampas, Peter and Marina Schell Scholarship Fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. To leave an online condolence, story or message, please visit or find us on Facebook under "Dracut Funeral Home.”
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