SCARBOROUGH — Eldred Harmon was the first full-time fire chief in Scarborough, and even though he had to retire when he was 65, he continued serving the department for another 20 years.

“I’ve been on a number of calls with him,” said Michael Thurlow, Scarborough’s current fire chief. “Us young fellas a third of his age were sweating and tugging on hose. Here was an 80-, 85-year-old man working the lot of us and getting satisfaction from it, too.”

Mr. Harmon died Wednesday overlooking the salt marshes he loved and always knew as home. He was 99.

Throughout his life, he lived within two miles of his birthplace on Black Point Road. Raised on a farm, he was always helping his father, said his stepdaughter Peggy Murray.

“He worked on the farm all his life and worked hard for all his life. When he wasn’t working on the farm, he was finding other ways to support the family,” she said.

In the winter, he drove a 72-foot truck for Paul Merrill, and later Hallamore. His stepdaughter said Mr. Harmon often found himself in predicaments when the loads he was hauling were wider than the roads he had to take.

“He loved to tell (the stories) about how he got into these messes and got out of them,” Murray said.

Growing up on the farm, Mr. Harmon learned that anything could be done, with a little ingenuity. He was often the one under a jacked-up building or on the roof, getting the job done, while others were still thinking about how to do it, Murray said.

“He was very humble,” she said. “He did a lot of things for people very quietly and never wanted any recognition for what he did.”

Thurlow said Mr. Harmon was a “fiscal conservative,” but was proactive with the needs of the fire department.

He advocated for firefighters to have air packs when that equipment was just entering the firefighting scene, in the mid-1970s, as well as larger-diameter hose and statewide training.

“He was progressive in his thinking and actions. He moved the department ahead a lot,” Thurlow said.

Mr. Harmon was very proud of the fact that he traveled, by motor home, to 49 states with his wife, Patricia, within 20 years. In 2003, the couple flew to Florida to complete the 50 states.

“He was a man who didn’t stop for pictures or at gift shops,” said his wife, who went through roll after roll of film taking pictures through the windshield of their motor home.

“He was an old truck driver and enjoyed driving like that,” she said. “He had always wanted to go to Alaska. That was a great trip. We drove 12,000 miles in six weeks.”

When they made it to Alaska, the couple spent a night in the Arctic Circle, which Mr. Harmon often boasted about.

It was one of the many times that Mr. Harmon and his wife, far from home, met someone with ties to Maine. One man they stopped and talked to because he had Maine licenses plates actually knew Mr. Harmon’s cousin, his wife said.

“We’d make a lot of friends on these trips,” she said, and some still send Christmas cards.

But the man who traveled to Florida and Hawaii, the tundra of Alaska and the Grand Canyon in Arizona wouldn’t hesitate in answering what his favorite place was.

“Maine was his favorite,” his wife said. “This was home.” 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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