Courtney W. Chaplin


Courtney W. Chaplin, 50, of Islesford and Northeast Harbor, died unexpectedly on Oct. 10, 2018. He was born Feb. 5, 1968, in Bar Harbor, the son of June P. Chaplin and Robert P. Chaplin.

Growing up on Roberts Avenue in Bar Harbor, Courtney attended Connors Emerson School, where his father, Bob, taught sixth-grade science. His childhood was rich with the antics of the “Roberts Ave. Gang” and enhanced by summers living in Acadia National Park, where his father had summer employment. He graduated from Mount Desert Island High School, Class of 1986. Following graduation, Courtney attended Roger Williams School of Design in Rhode Island to study architecture, where he received recognition for his original and accomplished designs. He often jokingly said, “I was a tidy model maker.”

When one of his professors invited Courtney to intern at his Boston architectural firm, the thought of spending a summer in a hot office away from his beloved Mount Desert Island made him realize that perhaps a career in architecture wasn’t the life for him. He transferred to the University of Maine at Orono but eventually decided that college didn’t offer him anything he couldn’t figure out on his own, so he never bothered to graduate.

While working at the harbormaster’s office in Northeast Harbor during the summer of 1990, Courtney met lobster fisherman Mark Fernald, who invited him to work as his sternman and offered him a place to stay on Islesford, also known as Little Cranberry Island, an offer he eagerly accepted. Little did Courtney know how that decision would change his life forever. Island living suited his temperament perfectly, and he particularly loved the sense of community he found in his new home. When he wasn’t fishing with Mark, he did “land work” with Harvey Bunker, an established builder and caretaker on the island. It was during the summer of 1992 that Courtney met and fell in love with his future wife, Kate Whitaker, a lifelong summer visitor to Islesford.

Courtney eventually left lobstering to return to his original interest of building and carpentry and went into business for himself, where his flair for design, attention to detail and creative problem-solving skills flourished. Courtney was known to “think outside the box” and always take a building project “to the next level,” so that it was both functional and elegant. When Sam Shaw presented him with a model made of popsicle sticks for a 10-sided house, he asked, “Can you build me this?” to which Courtney responded, “Well, I could with a big enough glue gun!” In addition to his carpentry skills, there wasn’t a mechanical problem he couldn’t solve, much to the relief of families across the island when dishwashers, well pumps, golf carts or furnaces failed unexpectedly, and mainland repairmen were hard to come by. In particular, his relationship with Dan and Cynthia Lief at the Islesford Dock Restaurant, and later with Michael Boland, presented ongoing challenges for him to maintain and repair professional grade systems in a marine environment, but he was always up to the task to the relief of happy diners.

Courtney loved his Islesford community and was instrumental in introducing a first responders team, which eventually became the Cranberry Isles Rescue Service. He served as an EMT and encouraged others to do likewise. He also played a critical role in organizing a hodgepodge of able-bodied members of the Islesford Volunteer Fire Association by introducing regular firefighter training, and by writing grant proposals and raising funds to purchase much-needed new equipment. Recognizing the challenges of winter training on an island, Courtney even arranged for an intensive fire training session for 10 island volunteers at the Mississippi State Fire Academy during February 2008. He established relationships with both the Hancock County Firefighters Association and Hancock County Radio Communications to enhance island safety in cooperation with mainland services.

One of his favorite activities was running, and he put a lot of miles on island roads, many of which were done as volunteer coach of the cross-country team, which he introduced for the Islesford School (now Ashley Bryan School). Many of his young runners grew to compete at high school and college levels, which always made him proud.

But of all his accomplishments, the one that gave him greatest pride by far was his family. In 1998, he and Kate married on Islesford; they welcomed their daughter Louise in 2001 and then twins Susannah and Whitaker in 2004. Nothing gave him greater satisfaction than seeing his children thrive in their island home, then later at Mount Desert Elementary and at Mount Desert Island High School. The joy and laughter he brought to the “Chaplin5,” whether leading camping and boating adventures, hiking and skiing the trails of Acadia, or simply sitting around the dinner table, will forever be missed.

Courtney is survived by his beloved wife Kate (Whitaker) Chaplin; his daughters Louise and Susannah; his son Whitaker; mother June Chaplin of Addison and Bar Harbor; father Bob Chaplin of Bar Harbor; sister Susannah Isaacs of Mount Desert, and nephews Maclean, Quinn, Gilbert and Porter Isaacs. He will be forever remembered by his extended family of in-laws, uncles, nieces, and cousins, not to mention the many people who called him friend.

Donations can be made to the Town of Cranberry Isles Fire & Rescue Auxiliary. Memo to read CIRS. P.O. Box 56 Islesford, ME 04646.

A memorial service will be held 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, at Bar Harbor Congregational Church, 29 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor. Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert.

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