To the Editor: We’ve lost a giant 



To the Editor: 

This past Friday, Nov. 6, our island communities lost a giant of our collective history. Raymond Strout, Class of 1959, Bar Harbor High Schooldied quietly in his home on Russell Farm Road in the Emery District of rural Bar Harbor, whence he had come. He and I were both in that high school class of 39 members. As an “in-towner, I barely knew him then, coming as he did from the farming district on the Norway Drive.  I did know that our milk man, Walter Sargent, had a dairy farm there, and that my friend Rob Shea’s family owned the Shea Farm, now known as the Stone Barn. The Liscombs came from just up the road. Both Raymond and the Emery District seemed to be a long way off. 

That changed dramatically when I came back to the island and discovered that he and I shared a passion for island history—with an important difference: I was a relative newcomer; for Raymond, it was his life’s work. Indeed, he had become a history oracle of sorts and was the go-to man for anything to do with Bar Harbor history, in particular. As most of you know, he had accumulated a mysterious collection that he had sequestered away in an unpretentious building down behind the old Ahlblad’s Paint Shop. He presided over this mostly hidden trove from an old tilt-back wooden office chair, from which he would answer softly and knowingly your question and inevitably offer you a “teaser” about a rare document or photograph he had come by. Oh, would you like to see the guest register from the 1856 season of the Agamont House?  

Raymond was extremely generous to people of all stripes, from organizers of the latest Bar Harbor High School reunion to the serious researcher. He gave of his time and expertise to the board of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, where I got to know him even better as its chairman. He was more than a resource—he was an institution. More than that, perhaps, he was precious—as precious as history and memory and islands and place.  Through him, that farming community on the Norway Drive, that seemed so distant to me as a teenager, comes to life as a thriving community that then gave rise to a mind like Raymond’s and is now preserved for all of us to remember and enjoy. 

Although Raymond Strout is gone, his legacy of institutional memory will live on in his sons, David and Michael. We are lucky to have them and they are lucky to have had Raymond. We wish them Godspeed. 

 

Bill Horner 

Bar Harbor 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.