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Robert D. Witherill

March 22, 1925 October 31, 2019
Robert D. Witherill
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Obituary for Robert D. Witherill

Robert “Bob” Witherill died on October 31 at Waldo County Hospital in Belfast. He was born on March 22, 1925 in Waterville, ME. He attended Colby College, the Navy V-12 program at Bates, then Columbia midshipman school and served as an Ensign in the Navy in WW II in the Pacific, spending time in Eniwetok, Guam, Okinawa and Japan. Returning home in 1946, Bob graduated from Colby in 1947 and later earned two Masters degrees from University of Maine. In 1947, Bob met Jean Thompson of Bedford, Mass in the summer community of Bayside in Northport and they married on December 26, 1950. It was also at Bayside that he developed a love of sailing and boating of all types. He was a charter member of the Northport Yacht Club (at age 14!), and in 1953 served as Commodore. He cruised and raced for many years including the Retired Skippers Race out of Castine with a crew of sons and grandsons. In 2014 he was named Commodore Emeritus of the Yacht Club for his years of dedicated service. For most of his life Bob was a college professor of business and economics. He taught at New England College in Henniker, NH, Nasson College in Springvale, ME, and the University of Southern Maine (USM) in Portland and Gorham. At USM, his specialty was economic education. He taught several summer workshops for elementary teachers sponsored by the Sears Roebuck Foundation. He also wrote a book, Economic Building Blocks, which became a manual for elementary teacher workshops throughout the country. He also worked with Central Maine Power Company to develop an economic energy saving program for elementary school children. It was presented at 250 schools around Maine with 15,000 children participating. On his retirement from USM, he was named Professor Emeritus.

While in Springvale Bob and Jean raised two sons. He served as Boy Scout Committee Chairman for Troop 317 in Sanford. He was a Mason in Springvale Lodge No. 190 and received his 50 year pin in 1999. During this period, Bob was also the Maine Correspondent for “Yachting” magazine, writing a monthly column and several feature articles. Cruises with family aboard his sailboat were highlights in the 70’s, with one trip up the St. John River in NB and another down the Intracoastal Waterway to Sarasota, FL. In 1983, he retired from teaching and moved to Northport with Jean. He established Penobscot Compass Service, and adjusted compasses on vessels all over Penobscot Bay. One of his proudest accomplishments was the direction of “Steamboat Fever” in 1998, a historical review of the steamboats that called at Northport and other Penobscot Bay ports. This was followed by publication in 2015 of Steamboat Memories. Bob and Jean moved to Penobscot Shores in Belfast in 2005 and have enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship that it offers, including the opportunity for Bob to share his love of a good joke.

In his later years, Bob took up pen and ink sketching. Most of his themes contained scenes of boats and harbors. He exhibited his work in shows in Maine and Florida. Many of his pictures hang in homes in Bayside and in Florida. Throughout the years, Bob’s greatest joy was spending time with family. Bob is survived by Jean, his loving wife of 69 years, sister Eleanor Holiday of Sun City, AZ, son David and wife Gail of Cumberland, ME and son Donald and wife Donna of Readfield, ME, as well as grandchildren Colin Joanna, Jackson and Kara, and great grandchildren Oliver and Quinn. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at Penobscot Shores in Belfast on November 16 at 1:00 PM (casual attire). Donations in his memory may be made to the Northport Yacht Club Sailing School at PO Box 957, Belfast, ME 04915 or Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County at HVOWC, PO Box 772, Belfast, ME 04915.

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