Raised on a fruit farm in upstate New York, Larry Wahl moved to Bucksport in 1977. He bought the Dairy Port at 79 Main Street in 1981 from Avis and Harold Cushing, who started the popular ice-cream shop in 1954. Lines often form at the Dairy Port’s windows from the shop’s opening “the first of April” to its closure “the third week of September, Wahl said.
He also owns rental properties in Bucksport, a town he ardently supports.
Nine years ago, some Buck Memorial Library trustees asked Wahl to join the board. A project to restore the library’s exterior walls and slate roof had been underway since 1993; the trustees “needed someone with a little background in construction,” Wahl said.
“I was in the construction business for 17 years,” he noted. “That would be my No. 1 passion, building things.” Wahl joined joined the trustee board and lent his expertise to the Buck Memorial Library’s restoration project. He now chairs the board.
“I have become deeply involved” in the library, Wahl said. “My goal is not only to see the restoration to completion, but to contribute to its educational role in the community, especially with kids.
“We have done several things this year toward that goal,” he said.
“One of the original members” when the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce formed years ago, Wahl became the chamber’s president last year. “Chambers of Commerce are set up so members support each other,” he said. “We want to be involved in the community.”
A Bucksport Bay Festival backer, Wahl has volunteered at the event’s information table and helped out behind the scenes. A board member for the Bucksport Historical Society and the Bucksport Area Cultural Arts Society, Wahl also belongs to the Orland Historical Society, the Bucksport Garden Club, and the Bucksport Decorating Committee. He’s active with the Friends of Fort Knox and the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust.
“I have been involved in an effort to save Wilson Hall,” built in 1851 as “the first of three buildings belonging to the Eastern Maine Conference Seminary,” Wahl said.
He serves on the Bucksport Economic Development Committee, which reports to the Bucksport Town Council. Wahl believes that job creation is vital to the town’s future.
On this particular day, customers kept the Dairy Port staff busy filling orders for ice cream cones, sundaes, and other delicious treats. Many customers grew up frequenting the shop; today they are “bringing their offspring,” Wahl said.
“It’s been a good ride for 37 years,” he commented. “I think I’ve made a lot of friends and made a lot of people happy. That’s what we try to instill in what we call our ‘ice cream artists,’” the employees serving Dairy Port’s customers.
Pleased “that I put a lot of schoolkids to work” in “their first jobs,” Wahl has seen former employees “grow up into their own careers.” One’s now a doctor, “several are teachers, real estate agents, biologist, veterinarians,” he said.
Wahl has two sons who live in upstate New York.