Stephen Dunlap was a “make it happen” kind of guy.

“If there was a man up there in the ivory tower saying something couldn’t be done, he would tell them, ‘Oh yes, it can,’” said his wife, Sharon Dunlap.

Mr. Dunlap, who was the fifth generation of his family to join The Dunlap Corp., in 1963, had that attitude regardless of what he was doing. He expanded the company from one office in Auburn to eight offices throughout New England, making The Dunlap Corp. the region’s largest and fastest-growing insurance and bonding agency of its time.

After a nine-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Mr. Dunlap died Tuesday. He was 69.

His father, Malcom Dunlap, died when Mr. Dunlap was 30, and he stepped up to run the business, alongside his sister, Catherine Thorpe. Mr. Dunlap’s wife said he always kept in mind a simple formula for success.

The family and the company believed in hard work, honesty and representing the interest of clients, as well as giving back to community and creating positive change in the overall business climate, she said.

With all that Mr. Dunlap did for the company and the community, he lived by those tenets. Mr. Dunlap, whose wife described him as a people person, enjoyed the client relations part of his job the most.

“He loved the contractors, that was his favorite piece of the business,” she said, especially when it came to long-term relationships.

Over the years, The Dunlap Corp. built a number of relationships with contractors, which tended to be family businesses. For example, his wife said, the Cianchette family, founders of Cianbro, worked with The Dunlap Corp. and Mr. Dunlap’s grandfather when the business started.

“Relationships were built on trust,” his wife said. “Customers came first.”

When Mr. Dunlap wasn’t dedicating his time to the company, he was out in the community. His wife said he was always willing to help with fundraisers, and “dialing for dollars” was something he did often.

Through his persistence, Mr. Dunlap was integral in boosting the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, for which he served as president and director of the board of trustees. He also was president of the Maine Better Transportation Association, supporting contractors and road infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

“I think what made him want to be involved (in the community), he loved being involved with people,” his wife said. “They were inspiration to him. If it was the right cause, he would go to bat and help them accomplish it.”

“Family was very important to Stephen,” his wife said, and he enjoyed spending time with his four grandchildren, ages 6 to 18.

“The hard part for me is the accomplishments that the grandchildren make,” she said of Mr. Dunlap’s death, because he won’t be around to share in the family celebrations.

In recent years, Mr. Dunlap and his wife lived at their home on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester.

Mr. Dunlap enjoyed the waters of Sabbathday Lake on the 1951 Chris-Craft he had refurbished. The Shaker Belle II was originally his father’s boat.

“It was the apple of his eye, next to me,” his wife said.

She has held onto the boat and learned to drive it herself.

“It’s a connection,” she said, for her children and grandchildren to have and remember Mr. Dunlap.

 

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

[email protected]