Remembering Mainers Who Died in 2017

Dec 29, 2017

As the year ends, we look back on the lives of some memorable Mainers. They defended people in court and on the battlefield, created great art and moving music, shaped public policy and gave us an official state soft drink.

Dan Lilley

Dan Lilley, attorney for Mark Strong, Sr., speaks to reporters outside the Cumberland County Counthouse after his client received a 20-day sentence and a $3,000 fine for his role in the Zumba prostitution case, Thursday, March 21, 2013, in Portland, Maine.
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Look up "moxie" in the dictionary and you'll see the words "energy" and "courage." Attorney Dan Lilley had "moxie." If you ever got into serious trouble, Dan Lilley was the guy to call. He helped restaurateur Tony DiMillo win acquittal in a tax evasion case. He successfully argued a "battered spouse" defense for Jackie Bevins of Ogunquit. She had been charged with murder after shooting her husband 15 times.

Lilley was no doubt driven by compassion for his clients, but that compassion reached further. In 2014, he donated $50,000 that kept open Sweetser's center in Brunswick for people with developmental disorders and mental illness.

Dan Lilley died in March. He was 79.

Thomas Monaghan

Thomas Monaghan plied the law on the other side in the mid-1960s. He was a prosecuting attorney then for Cumberland County. He was also chair of the Portland Housing Authority in the '70s, and he represented the state in the Indian Land Claims Settlement talks. Thomas Monaghan died in January at 85.

David Rockefeller announces his gift of 1,000 acres of land near Acadia National Park.
Credit Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public/file

David Rockefeller

David Rockefeller is best remembered as longtime president of Chase Manhattan Bank. But we remember him here because, like others in the Rockefeller clan, he had a special attachment to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

His father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., donated 11,000 acres to the park and had the carriage roads built.  David raised $10 million to rehabilitate those carriage roads and create a fund to ensure their future upkeep.  He also donated 1,000 acres adjacent to Acadia to a Mount Desert land trust. David Rockefeller was 101.

Alan Hutchinson

Alan Hutchinson helped preserve land all around the state. He was the founding executive director of the Forest Society of Maine. During his 20 years, the society grew to become one of the five largest land trusts in the U.S.  It has conserved more than a million acres of forest land. That included a conservation

Sister Frances Carr at the Shaker Village complex in New Gloucester, Maine.
Credit Steve O'Connor / Courtesy Shaker Village

easement for land along the Penobscot River and eight miles of shoreline along Moosehead Lake. Alan Hutchinson was 70.

Sister Frances Carr

The oldest practicing Shaker, Sister Frances Carr, died Jan. 2 this year, at age 89. The Shakers are the religious community on Sabbathday Lake, a community based on what Sister Frances described as the three C's: "It's a sharing of all things in common, so it's a religious communism, living in community," Sister Frances said. "We're also a celibate community and we also believe in the confession of sin."

Sister Frances said the rigor of Shakerism wasn't for everybody. But once she became a Shaker, she never felt alone. 

Dahlov Ipcar

Artist Dahlov Ipcar died this past March. She said one of her favorite quotes was from Winston Churchill: "Most people, their work and their pleasure are separate. And for some people their work and their pleasure are the same. And they're the lucky ones. I'm just one of the lucky ones."

Artist Dahlov Ipcar.
Credit Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News/file

Actually, we were pretty lucky, too. We got to see her fanciful illustrations of animals in children's books, in museum exhibitions on posters and tee-shirts for the Common Ground Fair and for Maine Public's former Great T-V auctions. Dahlov Ipcar got to enjoy her work and her pleasure right up to — and including — her last day, a Friday in March when her heart finally stopped. She was 99.

Robert Pirsig

Author Robert Pirsig wrote the popular philosophy book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

"Frequently people get the idea that Zen is something apart from the everyday world and it never is," he said. "And I'm trying to bring that point home with the use of motorcycle maintenance."

The book was published in 1974.  Pirsig's other work, "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals," was published 17 years later. Pirsig said he'd written all he had to say and retreated to a quiet life in South Berwick, Maine. It was there he died last April at 88.

Peter Alfond

Peter Alfond.
Credit Courtesy Alfond Foundation / via Bangor Daily News

Peter Alfond, like his father Harold, put his wealth to work for others, giving money in support of education and health care, among other causes. He supported institutions in Maine and in the Caribbean. Peter Alfond went to Africa earlier this year, contracted malaria, and died. He was 65.

David Cloutier

Dave Cloutier was a standout running back for the University of Maine football team. An injury interrupted an early pro career, but also led to him signing on in 1964 with what was then the Boston Patriots as a defensive back and kick returner. That made Cloutier the first Mainer ever to play for what is now the New England Patriots. After that 1964 season, Cloutier began a career in real estate. He died in Florida at 78.

Neil Rolde
Credit Maine Public/file

Neil Rolde

Neil Rolde was a legislator from a different time: "There was a great collegiality," he once recalled. "We would get out there and beat each other's brains out on the floor, but then we'd go have a drink and we knew each other's family and that sort of stuff."

Rolde, a Democrat, represented York in the Maine Legislature from 1974 to 1990. In later years, he wrote about Maine history and about U.S. actions during the Holocaust. He was a member of many Maine boards and commissions, including Maine Public's. Neil Rolde lived to be 85.

Kurt Messerschmidt

Kurt Messerschmidt lived some 70 years longer than Adolph Hitler would have wished. Messerschmidt, a native German Jew survived stays in concentration camps, including the notorious Auschwitz. 

Kurt Messerschmidt.
Credit Messerschmidt family

He eventually moved to the U.S. and put his musical talent to work as a Cantor, someone who chants the ancient Hebrew prayers.

Messerschmidt was Cantor at Portland's Temple Beth El for 34 years. He and his wife Sonja also gave public witness to their World War II experiences. Sonja died in 2010. Kurt Messerschmidt died this past September at 102.

Mel Stone

Several members of the Nazi leadership eventually stood trial for war crimes stemming from the Holocaust. Mel Stone, a Portland native, was there, in Nuremberg, to see some of the proceedings.  He was helping Germans rebuild it after the war. Stone went on to own several newspapers in Maine, and later TV and radio stations, and was the first president of the New England Press Association. Mel Stone died in November at the age of 96.

Richard Dudman

Richard Dudman
Credit Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

Richard Dudman was a reporter, taken prisoner by the Viet Cong in Cambodia in 1970. He and two other younger journalists were held for over a month. "I felt it was my responsibility to keep their spirits up," he once said. "So I said, 'You know, if we get outta here alive, we're gonna have one hell of a story.' "
They did. 

But it was only one story among many during an award-winning career. Dudman retired to Ellsworth but continued to take on reporting projects for his former paper, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and write columns for the Bangor Daily News. Richard Dudman died this summer at 99.

Robert Coles Jr.

Robert Coles Jr.
Credit Coles family

Robert Coles Jr. had his own war story that began abruptly on the date people of his generation would never forget.  Coles, just shy of 18, was aboard the Navy frigate Bagley, in Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941 when he saw planes. "I says, 'No, this is not maneuvers,'" he recalled. "'It's Sunday and it's a crowded harbor. This is war.'"

In an interview with the National Park Service, Coles said he climbed into a gun turret. With no training, he fired on attacking Japanese aircraft and watched the horror unfold. "Off to my port quarter I see this big, huge black explosion," he said. "Didn't know who it was, but all I knew, somethin' blew up. And it turned out to be the Arizona." Robert Coles Jr. returned to Pearl Harbor for last year's 75th anniversary observance. He died in November at 93.

Arthur Brountas

Arthur Brountas, center.
Credit Carroll Hall / Bangor Daily News/file

Arthur Brountas  was part of Douglas MacArthur's occupation force in Japan after World War II. He returned to Bangor, and business pursuits. And, like two of his brothers, Arthur Brountas served two terms as a Bangor City Councilor and one year as mayor.  Arthur Brountas was 90.

Linda Abromson

Linda Abromson decided to run for Portland's City Council so she could stop the city from charging women to use the bathroom at Portland Jetport, her daughter says. Abromson won, the charge went away, and she went on to become the city's second woman mayor. Abromson had a 12-year council tenure. She also served on the Portland School Committee and sat on Maine's Human Rights Commission for nine years.

When she wasn't doing that, or contributing to local community activities, odds were you could find her on the golf course, weather permitting. Linda Abromson was 78.

Rep. Gina Mason.
Credit Mason family

Gina Mason

State Rep. Gina Mason died during her first term representing the town of Lisbon in the Maine House. She was also the mother of state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, who plans to run for governor next year. Gina Mason was 57.

Frank Anicetti

We began by talking about "moxie" as a character trait. We'll end by talking about it as a beverage.

"I prefer mine room temperature and a little flat. I think it has a little more of that bitter taste."

That was said once by Frank Anicetti, who for decades owned the Kennebec Fruit Store in Lisbon.

Frank Anicetti.
Credit Anicetti family

But Anicetti was best known as "Mr. Moxie." Moxie was created as a medicine in 1876 by a doctor from Union. He said it was guaranteed to cure "impotence, paralysis, dyslexia, and softening of the brain," among other things. It actually became America's best-selling soft drink until it was overtaken in 1920 by Coca Cola.

Moxie is now more of a regional drink. But in 1982, Frank Anicetti created the annual Moxie Festival. Maine Public's Susan Sharon talked with Anicetti in 2002 and learned just how intertwined he'd become with the drink and its fans. "I get calls and letters daily from all over the country — if I can ship Moxie, ship T-shirts," he said. "The history of it — it just goes on and on."  In 2005, the Maine Legislature declared Moxie the official state soft drink.

Frank Anicetti died in May. He was 77. But the Moxie Festival lives on: Next year's begins July 13 in Lisbon. As for his own Moxie habits, "I go through about half a gallon a day," Anicetti said. That, you might say, took moxie.