Norman Beecher

Obit- ISL- BeecherflagFORT MYERS/ NORTHEAST HARBOR – Norman Beecher, a longtime summer resident of Northeast Harbor, died quietly in his Fort Myers, Fla., home on Feb. 15, 2016. Thus ended what he called his “Fortunate [life] Journey” that began in Clearwater, Fla., in 1923, and encompassed a fulfilling career, loving family, and many wonderful, enduring friendships.

Norman was a scientist; he loved to experiment, analyze, explain, tinker and fix things. Passionate about health, education, environment, culture, Norman happily engaged others in conversation in those and even “taboo” topics like religion and politics.

He was a regular on the courts at the Northeast Harbor Tennis Club, hiked every trail on Mount Desert Island at least once, and spent thousands of hours sailing his sloop ORN – to nearby islands, and on cruises spanning the coast of Maine from Kittery to Campobello. His family coined the term FOMTI (Fit One More Thing In) to describe his approach to life, especially vacation days.

From the Asheville School in Asheville, N.C., Norman attended MIT, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1944, and ScD in 1957, in chemical engineering. In WWII, he commanded a vehicle recovery unit in the 14th Armored Division, as it battled north through France, at Hatten, and helped liberate Dachau.

After the war, he met and married Wellesley student president, Nancy Bartram. They embarked on a three-year teaching “mission” to Istanbul, Turkey, spending summers biking through Europe.

In 1952, they returned to Concord, Mass., to make their home and raise four children. Norman began his professional career teaching at MIT, during which time he briefly managed the practice school in Brewer, and finished in the research division of Kennecott Copper Corp., where he developed methods for extracting minerals from the ocean floor.

In “retirement,” Norman edited a professional journal, wrote three books, taught continuing education classes, traveled extensively, and “summered” in his beloved Northeast Harbor “cottage.” Involved in many church and community organizations in Massachusetts, he also contributed time and funds to preserve the environment and activities he and Nancy treasured in Maine.

Norman is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nancy, his children, Catharine (Jack Christiansen), Carolyn, Norman B. “Bucky”, and Edward “Ned” (Chris Clyne), one sister Barbara Carl, five grandchildren — Gordon, Wilson and Steve Nitka, Jesse and Juliana Beecher, two great-grandchildren — Elsa and Faye Beecher, AFS “daughter” Carla Piccinini, several nieces and nephews, and many friends and colleagues, who will miss him deeply. Memorial services were held in Fort Myers in February, and Concord, Mass., his and Nancy’s primary home of 60-plus years, in May. The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the cause to which you and Norman were most avidly committed.

Know when to pay your respects.