Everything’s in its place in the small basement studio where Dick Anzelc paints; tools hang neatly on pegboard. “I’m kind of an organized guy,” Anzelc says.

The small sanctuary sits just off Anzelc’s self-proclaimed “man cave,” a nicely decorated, climate-controlled basement packed with nautical memorabilia reflecting his younger days as a merchant mariner.

At 81, Anzelc (pronounced Ansel) of Raymond has led a colorful life. A father of nine and approaching his 60th anniversary with wife Jacquie, Anzelc now spends his retirement years painting Maine scenes. Many of his watercolors and greeting cards can be found in local shops, travel agencies and on the walls of doctors’ offices. Recently, his art led him to the home of a famous person.

Earlier this month, Anzelc presented former President George H.W. Bush with a painting of the family’s Kennebunkport compound.

“Last fall I did three paintings of the Kennebunkport area,” Anzelc said. “I took a picture of the Bush compound, painted the scene on a card and sent it to Bush.”

Anzelc wrote a brief message on the card thanking the former president for his service to the country, and that Anzelc would be honored to present the dignitary with the original full-size painting.

“A week later I received a note from him,” Anzelc said. “I called his assistant and set up an appointment.” A meeting was set for July 1, about the time the Bush family would be in Kennebunkport for the Fourth of July.

Anzelc arrived at Walker’s Point and got to meet Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, while waiting for the former president. On his way to the second floor and Bush’s office, he thought he spied the elder statesman. “I turn the corner and I see a guy who kind of looked like Bush but a little different,” Anzelc said. “It was his brother, Bucky. I didn’t know he had a brother.”

When Anzelc finally walked in with his painting and faced former President Bush, he didn’t waste any time conveying his respect, thanking him for his service.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, when I was a kid graduating from high school in Chicago, I wanted to be a Navy pilot because my cousin was a Navy pilot and I thought my cousin was God,’” Anzelc said. “‘You were a Navy pilot, you got shot down, became head of the CIA, were president of the United States, brought another president into the world, and you’re still active with (former president) Clinton in Haiti. You’ve really devoted your life to the country.”‘

Anzelc said Bush beamed with gratitude. Anzelc then presented the 16-by-20-inch painting along with three boxes of greeting cards of the Walker’s Point compound and other Kennebunkport scenes.

In return, Bush indicated he had something for Anzelc. “It was a box of gold presidential cuff links with his signature on the back,” Anzelc said.

Anzelc is a largely self-taught artist who began working with stained glass. His aptitude for crafting things was initially prompted by a career in Maine’s shoe industry as a draftsman — beginning first with Harold Alfond at Norwalk Shoe Co. (before Alfond started Dexter Shoe) and ending with Sebago Inc. in Bridgton and Westbrook.

“Harold (Alfond) used to refer to me as his engineer,” Anzelc said. “I started making patterns for Norwalk Shoe Company. When you make patterns you use a knife like a surgeon.”

Eighteen years later Anzelc found himself at Sebago Inc. overseeing seven departments. He retired 10 years ago at age 71.

Today, Anzelc paints twice a week with other local artists at the Naples library. “I like to get my work critiqued,” he said.

 

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]