FREEPORT – James Thomas Mann moved five times during his lifetime, but he never left Wolfe’s Neck.

“He spent 90 years living on the same road,” and contributed a lot to the Freeport area during his lifetime, his son Ken Mann said.

Mr. Mann died Monday at age 90.

After serving stateside in the U.S. Army during World War II, Mr. Mann was asked to help fell a tree near the stone house at the newly established Wolfe’s Neck Farm. That was the beginning of his 15-year career as a founding manager of the farm, which practices sustainable agriculture.

“He was instrumental in getting the farm going and preserving the farms around town,” his son said. Mr. Mann brought the first herd of Angus cattle to the farm.

He left the farm and bought a Chevron station in town, selling gas and repairing automobiles.

“He did really well in a location that never had been successful before,” Ken Mann said.

Son John Mann said his father was the kind of person who took care of himself as well as everyone else.

“He was very confident and he could build anything, fix anything,” John Mann said, “He had a real streak of engineering genius in him.”

As a high school student, Mr. Mann was the only teenager with his own car, his son said. Ken Mann said his father had a Model A Ford that he fixed up and got running.

Mr. Mann was also an inventor of sorts.

Using a car engine and an old clock pendulum, he built a windmill to power an electric fence around his father’s farm before electrical service reached the property.

“He was very mechanical and good with electricity,” Ken Mann said. “He was able to do stuff like that naturally.”

“Dad was gifted in all sorts of engineering, improvisation, inventiveness, mechanical ability, construction and as a  leader,” his daughter Carolyn Mann wrote.

He put his carpentry and construction skills to work building and selling a number of houses. Ken Mann said his father would do everything from digging the well and laying brick for the chimney to designing cabinets. He would finish a house project in about a year.

“He was not fast, but he was very methodical. He kept right on working at a steady pace,” Ken Mann said.

Mr. Mann also liked to entertain. His children said he was famous for inviting “anybody that wanted to come” to the family home or boating on Casco Bay.

“He kept an old boat and entertained people with clam bakes and picnics,” Ken Mann said.

“Those are the fondest memories I have.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]