Seeking “a cleaner, less crowded area,” Sorrento Select Board Chair Rob Wilpan and his wife, Janet, moved to Sorrento from Long Island, New York in 1988 after he accepted a position with The Jackson Laboratory. A Sorrento selectman for 21 years (except for one year between 2017 and 2018), Rob became the board chair after the passing of Louis Sutherland Sr. in 2006. PHOTO BY BRIAN SWARTZ

Accidental discovery led selectman to choose Sorrento

Rob Wilpan, chairman of the Sorrento Board of Selectmen, moved to Sorrento with his wife, Janet, in 1988. Hailing from Long Island, N.Y., they wanted to live in “a cleaner, less crowded area,” Rob recalled.

Maine was the desired destination. Rob “was into bike riding while growing up on Long Island,” and he would bicycle to New Hampshire in the summer and camp along the way. “I had a pin on the map on Acadia National Park,” he said, intending to bike to Mount Desert Island one day.

Janet had traveled to MDI occasionally to visit a former neighbor who had moved home to Bar Harbor. Rob applied for a position with The Jackson Laboratory, and he and Janet traveled to Bar Harbor for a job interview in February 1988.

Their arrival in Bar Harbor coincided with a nor’easter. The sun rose over a gorgeous landscape the next day.

“We knew we wanted to live here,” Rob said. “We really weren’t aware of Sorrento, but once we came here, we found what was here by accident: a beautiful town, off the beaten path,” a “quiet place to live away from busy Route 1.”

Hired to start the microchemistry service at the lab, Rob provides technical services for lab researchers in Bar Harbor. A Sorrento selectman for 21 years, except for one year between 2017 and 2018, Rob became the board chairman after the passing of Louis Sutherland Sr. in 2006. Teaching himself WordPress, Rob is developing a website for Sorrento that will offer residents some online services currently available only in person at the town office.

Rob and Janet have two sons. Neil attends Sumner Memorial High School, and Austin lives in Trenton. Recently married, he works at The Jackson Laboratory in the same building as his father.


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