EAST WILTON – Louisiana native Thomas Linder Sr. was a “true Southern man” who raised a “true Southern family.”

“He was a gentleman’s gentleman. People that knew him and that met him always knew he was genuine,” said his son, Thomas Linder Jr.

Mr. Linder died Sunday. He was 85.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, he had his first taste of Maine when he traveled to Bath Iron Works for the launch of the USS Agerholm after enlisting in the Navy in 1942. At the time, he was serving as a lieutenant aboard the vessel, his son-in-law Michael Nyboe said.

He met his wife, Mona, when they were just 5 years old, and they celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary just after Christmas.

His wife said when she first met him, he “had bright carrot hair and freckles all over.” Mona Linder said she told her mother he was “the ugliest boy” she’d ever met.

“(My mother) told me everyone was beautiful and told me to look at him with a different light,” Mona Linder said, and by high school, they were dating.

“He was such a loving father and husband,” she said.

Mr. Linder earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering and worked for International Paper.

A promotion presented Mr. Linder an opportunity to work at the paper mill in Jay.

“He came home one day and said, ‘Y’all sit down. I have something I want to tell you,’ ” his wife remembers.

“We all agreed we’d like to go” to Maine, she said. Once they moved, “He loved everything about it, really.”

It was the beginning of nearly 45 years living in East Wilton.

Mr. Linder’s grandson Curtis Brooks, who also works in the paper industry along with other family members, said Mr. Linder was a very company-oriented man.

“Everyone I’ve ever known always laughs because there were always two things. You could set your watch by the time he did his rounds, and he always stopped to talk with someone,” Brooks said.

His wife would ask where he’d been if he returned from work late, his grandson said. More often than not, he was late because he was talking to one of the mill employees.

When he retired from the paper industry, Mr. Linder and his wife had a business, Beans Corner Corn Co. They started the business in the late 1970s, popping corn and selling it in Boothbay and at a store in Portland’s Old Port. His son said he’d come into the shop, help pop the corn or unload deliveries and load up trucks for shipment.

Mr. Linder both hunted and fished, but he probably enjoyed fishing best, his son said. He remembers a fishing excursion the two had just a few years ago.

“We went down and were fishing just below the old Otis Paper Mill dam. In about an hour, the two of us caught about 80 bass,” his son said. “If he wouldn’t be catching one, I was. We were just laughing and having a good time.”

 

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