Jerry Mundy, a Holden resident and one of the Maine Troop Greeters profiled in the 2009 documentary “The Way We Get By,” died Sunday. He was 84.
Mundy, Joan Gaudet and Bill Knight were the three troop greeters who were the primary subjects of the documentary, directed by Old Town native Aron Gaudet and his filmmaking partner and wife, Gita Pullapilly. For more than a decade, the trio were among the intrepid group of community members in the Bangor area — some veterans, some not — who assemble at sometimes a moment’s notice to greet troops arriving at Bangor International Airport from overseas.
Aron Gaudet said the relationship he and Pullapilly had with Mundy went far beyond the time they spent together making the film.
“He became our close friend,” Gaudet said on Wednesday. “Jerry was someone we could call and talk to and know he was always there for us unconditionally. He had the biggest heart in the world, and even in the toughest times, he always found a way to make us laugh. We will miss him greatly.”
Mundy was born in 1935 in Brewer, and attended Brewer schools. He entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Korean War before being honorably discharged. He moved back to Maine, settling in Casco, where he married and had three children. Mundy was an ironworker and foreman for Augusta Ironworks, Seabrook Nuclear Plant and a number of Maine paper mills during his career. According to his obituary, he helped to build the Prudential Tower in Boston, as well as the TV transmission tower in Raymond, which when it was built in 1959 was briefly the world’s tallest man-made structure.
Mundy retired in 1990 and returned to the Bangor area, and lived on Brewer Lake. During that time, Mundy became involved with the Maine Troop Greeters.
Though people began greeting returning troops at Bangor International Airport informally in the early 1990s, during the Gulf War, the group became organized in 2002, as many more troops stopped at BIA as they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Over time, the group has greeted more than 1.5 million returning troops. The Maine Troop Greeters became a nonprofit group in 2008, and in 2017, the Maine Troop Greeters Museum opened at Bangor International Airport.
“The Way We Get By” was a passion project of Aron Gaudet, who is the son of Joan Gaudet. The film premiered in March 2009 at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and had its Maine premiere at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono in May 2009. It also had a special screening in Washington, D.C., with then Vice President Joe Biden.
Of the three subjects of the film, Mundy is the one with all the jokes and one-liners, though he also shares his personal pain, including the loss of his 10-year-old son, Paul, and the health troubles he experienced as he aged. Knight died in 2013, and Gaudet died in 2014.