By Jano Tantongco
To become newly minted as an Eagle Scout, Eddie DePinter Jr. recently built a four-sided mahogany bench at Northport High School fit with a symbolic pear tree honoring late U.S. Marine Cpl. Christopher Scherer, of East Northport.
DePinter is a member of Troop 52 of East Northport, the very same branch with which Scherer once became an Eagle Scout. As DePinter, also of East Northport, progressed through the scout ranks, he got to know the Scherer family, which hails from East Northport. DePinter said that when he visited the Scherer’s home, his family told him that the late Marine was often likened to a pear tree.
Scherer “was very tough and hearty, and he had character. That was one of the reasons why the Scherer’s wanted the pear tree,” DePinter said.
The memorial stands just outside the athletic fields of the high school.
DePinter’s father, Edmund, who also attained the rank of Eagle Scout, said his son started in Boy Scouts when he was 5 years old. He was excited to see his son complete the same rite of passage, a threshold few Boy Scouts cross into. DePinter earned 31 merit badges, going above and beyond the necessary 21 badges to make the cut for Eagle, Edmund said.
“I’m very proud to see that he actually did it and put his mind to something. The project, that was all his idea,” Edmund said.
DePinter said that he first conceived of the idea for his project with some help from Herb McGrail, Eagle Scout advancement chairperson. At first, DePinter considered constructing two benches, but McGrail pushed him to take it a step further and build four benches.
So, the Eagle Scout candidate decided to merge the ideas to create one four-sided bench. He then approached the Scherers with the question of what should be placed in the center, leading to the idea for the pear tree.
Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) recently commended DePinter’s project as “honorable” and awarded him a proclamation.
“It’s a hard thing to accomplish. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of effort,” Trotta said. “I always say it’s one of the favorite parts of my job. It gives me hope, to be honest with you.”
Trotta said that only 4 percent of boy scouts go onto become Eagle Scouts, a distinction shared by greats like Neil Armstrong and several U.S. presidents.
Trotta added, “It’s important that people recognize what their accomplishments are.”