ROCKLAND – Bob Gushee’s formal education ended as a high school sophomore, but he never stopped learning and eventually earned his way to the top of the Rockland business community, where he was known as a diligent landlord and community leader.

“Bob didn’t graduate from high school, but he was a hardworking man,” his wife, Barbara Gushee, said Saturday. “People just took him under their wings, and away he went.”

Robert C. Gushee, 82, died Thursday at the Owls Head Homestead, after an extended illness. He was born in Appleton, and spent most of his life close to home.

For a time, Mr. Gushee and his wife managed more than 100 apartment units in Rockland, including nearly two dozen at Breakwater Apartments. Mr. Gushee built the complex in 1988, five years after retiring from a long career at the cement plant in Thomaston.

During his working life, he acquired and renovated older homes, fixing them up and turning them into nice apartments.

His rental business was a sideline to his work at the cement plant, but it became increasingly important to him. He took pride in his work, and felt good about what he was doing to make Rockland a better place for people to live, his wife said.

“The Breakwater project was our last hurrah, to build something new after working so hard on older buildings all those years. At that time, we were the largest landlords in Rockland,” she said.

To celebrate, the couple took a two-month vacation, driving across the country in a motor home.

They enjoyed their retirement years. When not attending to the rental business, Mr. Gushee liked to ride his Harley- Davidson motorcycle.

He also loved flying, and learned to fly as a young man. He had two planes in his life, a Cessna 150 and a Piper Warrior four-seater. “It was just something he always enjoyed doing,” his wife said.

He was active in the local business community as a member of the B & B Investment Club. A 32nd Degree Mason, he was a member of the Rockland Lodge of Masons since 1958. He was a member of the Scottish Rite, Kora Shrine and Mid Coast Shrine Club, and a life member of the Rockland Lodge of Elks, No. 1008.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]