Roc Ritchie Caivano, 77, died at home on July 8, 2021. He was born on Feb. 12, 1944, and grew up in Tarrytown, N.Y., the oldest of Rocco and Margaret (Ritchie) Caivano’s four children. He attended Dartmouth College ’66 and the Yale School of Architecture ’70. In 1966, he met his future wife, Helen Lee McGregor, on a blind date at Fat George’s Bar in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; they were married on Nov. 30, 1969, in NYC. They lived in New Haven while Roc made animated shorts for “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company.” During this time, he made the animated film “Air Conditioned Comfort,” which highlighted the perils of consumptive tourism and the wisdom of Smokey the Bear. The film was shown nightly at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor throughout the 1980s. After Yale, Roc started a design-build company, Elephant Track Construction, and over the next few years he designed and built houses in Honey Creek, Wis., Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Erin, N.Y. In 1974, responding to an ad in the New York Times, he took a position at College of the Atlantic on Mount Desert Island, where he started the environmental design program. During this time, Roc and Helen fully embraced the community that has anchored their happy and meaningful lives. In 1975, their daughter Katharine Starlight was born; their daughter Lilly McGregor was born in 1981. Roc was a deeply loving father, “Be careful,” and “I’m so damn proud of you” his most common refrains.
In 1983, Roc and his family moved to Philadelphia, where he worked for Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown as an associate for five years. He then joined Lyman Perry Architects as a partner. In 1990, the Caivanos moved back to Mount Desert Island to open Roc Caivano Architects. For the next 25 years he designed several hundred projects, from garden sheds to health centers, summer cottages, year-round houses and structures in Acadia National Park.
Throughout his life, Roc was an active participant — in the classroom, around the dinner table, at the job site, on numerous nonprofit boards and committees, and most proudly as a volunteer fireman with the Bar Harbor Fire Department. Roc used most of his spare time making stuff. He loved to fix, create and build things — and most of all to paint. After retiring in 2013, when he wasn’t converting various rooms in their house to studios, he pretty much painted full time. He was happy and fulfilled with his life, as he was with his partner of 52 years. The true love Roc and Helen shared is legendary to anyone fortunate enough to know them.
In November of 2020, Roc was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was well taken care of by the MDI Hospital and Beacon Hospice communities, and by his family and dear, dear friends. Roc is survived by his wife, Helen, his daughters Kate Macko and Lilly Caivano, his son-in-law Benjamin Chase Macko and his beloved granddaughter Juniper Helen Macko. He is also survived by his brother Carl and Carl’s wife, Nancy Campbell, and by his sisters Susie Fagan and Donna Caivano. Please visit the celebration of Roc’s creativity on display at the Northeast Harbor Library for the month of July. A Celebration of Life will be held from 4-6pm, Sat. July 24, 2021 at College of the Atlantic at The Turrets, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor. Donations in Roc’s honor may be made to the EdGE Program of the Maine Seacoast Mission, P.O. Box 600, Northeast Harbor, ME 04662 or the Roc & Helen Caivano Scholarship Fund at College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609. In lieu of flowers, please take a walk near the ocean with a friend.
Arrangements in care of Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert.