BRUNSWICK – James Dodd was the type of person who could do 50 things at once and not break a sweat.

Mr. Dodd was the well-known and respected owner of several rental properties in Maine’s midcoast.

For many years, he gave swimming lessons to students at Harpswell Elementary School. He taught ballroom dancing and sailing courses through Merrymeeting Adult Education. He also guided visitors through the Joshua Chamberlain House in Brunswick a couple days a week every summer.

“He was incredibly active,” said his wife, Anne Dodd of Brunswick. “He liked to be around people. He liked to be doing things. … That’s why this is so sad.”

Mr. Dodd died Wednesday at Amenity Manor in Topsham, where he had lived for about a year. He was 80.

Mr. Dodd suffered a stroke in July of 2009. About two months later, he had another stroke, which severely affected his speech and his ability to use his right side.

“It was very frustrating for him. He found it harder and harder to communicate,” his wife said. “It was hard to go in there and see someone who was so active, unable to do anything by himself. … My motto was, ‘One day at a time.’ “

The Dodds were married for 46 years. They met on a blind date at a restaurant in California and tied the knot six weeks later. In this case, opposites attracted.

“He was a risk taker … an adventuresome person. I am more conservative. Together, we complemented each other,” his wife said.

Mr. Dodd was an English teacher in his earlier years. He began his teaching career in California. He taught English at schools in Maine including Yarmouth and Wiscasset high schools and the University of Maine at Machias.

After 17 years in the profession, he left teaching to pursue a career in real estate.

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Dodd began investing in rental properties. He bought and renovated several buildings in the Bath-Brunswick area. He rented some homes, and renovated and sold other properties for a profit. His wife said he loved the business.

“He loved running around, checking on this and doing that,” she said. “Everyone liked him as a landlord. He kept the properties up and was responsive to tenants’ calls.”

Mr. Dodd had a passion for traveling and sailing. He was a member of the Portland Yacht Club for 25 years and enjoyed sailing on Casco Bay. He often competed in races on JaZazzi, his J-24 sailboat.

In the 1980s, he and his wife chartered a boat for a week in Tonga, in the South Pacific. His wife chuckled Wednesday, remembering how badly he wanted to sail beyond the islands there.

“He was chomping at the bit,” she said. “He loved the challenge. It was like man against nature. He always wanted to be racing. When he saw another boat, he was racing — whether the other guy knew it or not.”

The last big trip the couple made was to China in 2006. They visited the Wolong Panda Research Center in China, which is dedicated to research and preservation of the panda species.

The Dodds volunteered at the center and, on their last day there, got a chance to go inside the “panda kindergarten,” which housed 16 baby pandas.

One of the pandas that Mr. Dodd cared for was featured in a two-page photo spread in National Geographic.

“It was an amazing experience,” his wife said. “They were running around like little puppies, playing with toys. You could get right up close to them. (Mr. Dodd) surprised me. He got right in there.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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