Robert Richard Pyle died Dec. 25, 2018, after a wonderful life. He was born on Oct. 22, 1945, in Phoenixville, Pa., the son of Louise Kaler Sawtelle and James Wesley Pyle. Brought as an infant to Searsport, where he attended grammar school, he began his summer life as a child in his grandparents’ seaside cottage on Islesford, an island link he idealized and maintained throughout his life. He was a 1963 graduate of Mount Desert High School (Northeast Harbor) and a history and literature graduate of Ricker College (Houlton) in 1970.
Having survived groundbreaking heart surgery in 1968, he started work at the Northeast Harbor Library in 1971 and began the process by which the state of Maine then certified librarians: a combination of courses, projects and work experiences that culminated in his status as “Librarian VI” (on a scale of 5, he would joke with a wink), a Ph.D. equivalent. When he retired in 2011, he was the last and longest serving of that apprenticeship system. In 1973, he met and married the love of his life, his first wife, Miriam Louise Mahon.
Bob became director in 1975 and enjoyed serving 40 years at his beloved Northeast Harbor Library, overseeing seven renovations and ultimately, in 2008, opening the new facility. Committed to his tenet of “The library is not about books; it’s about people and information,” he guided a doubling of the collection, promoted acquisition of extensive archives and saw in the computer/internet era. During his career he was honored by numerous organizations including the Northeast Harbor Library’s Don Coates Award and Acadia National Park’s W.O. Sawtelle Award. In his time in Northeast Harbor, Bob was a pillar in many community organizations, including the volunteer fire and ambulance departments and the Police Reserve. He also filled roles on many committees and boards.
Bob loved history and literature, classical music and oratorio. In retirement he enjoyed several years as a “living exhibit” at the Isleford Historical Museum, which was founded by his grandfather. Bob was known for his irrepressible sense of humor and incorrigible punning. He loved the village of Northeast Harbor, and the town of Mount Desert, and all the personalities who form it. Telling stories of village life and history was his specialty and he shared with enthusiasm. With similar energy he indulged his other great passion, music, and sang with the Acadia Choral Society for decades.
Bob is survived by his wife of 45 years, Miriam; his “best achievement” daughter Louise (Ouisa) Clare Pyle and her husband, Christopher Ross-Gill; a brother Nathaniel Choate, a sister Beth Sherlock, and a cherished array of nieces, nephews, cousins and acquired family members. He was predeceased by his parents; godmother Lydia Lyman; three brothers, Edward Carlile, William Sawtelle, and David Marshall Choate, a sister, Louise Godfrey Choate; and treasured friend, Gunnar Hansen.
A service will be held at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5. Graveside committal services will take place in the spring. In lieu of flowers, remembrance donations would be welcomed by the Northeast Harbor Library, P.O. Box 279, Northeast Harbor, ME 04662, or the Mount Desert Ambulance Service, P.O. Box 122, Northeast Harbor, ME 04662.
Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.