PHIPPSBURG — Richard LeMont was a well-respected clam digger and a caretaker for many cottages that line the Kennebec River.

He grew up digging clams in the flats of the Kennebec and made his living on and along the water, doing odd jobs such as building docks, landscaping or repairing boats.

On April 7, Mr. LeMont left his home in Phippsburg to dig clams. He then motored his 14-foot aluminum skiff toward Perkins Island to free a log that was jammed under a dock.

A Maine Marine Patrol air crew spotted his skiff later that day near Perkins Ledge with no one aboard. His body was found April 21 by someone walking on Sewall Beach. The state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death an accidental drowning. He was 43.

“It’s just wrong,” said Lee Rainey, a longtime friend and the town’s code enforcement officer. “It’s a huge loss for this community. He did so much for so many people.”

Mr. LeMont, known by most people as “Dickie,” was remembered by his family and friends Monday as a “quintessential Mainer” who did much to protect Maine’s shellfish industry.

For the past 20 years, he served as chairman of the Phippsburg Shellfish Conservation Commission. He also served on the town’s Harbor Commission.

Town officials said Monday that he was a strong advocate for regular water testing on the Kennebec River to prevent clam-flat closures due to pollution and red tide.

Everett Perkins, chairman of the Phippsburg Board of Selectmen, said Mr. LeMont worked closely with the state Department of Marine Resources. Perkins said that in many cases, Mr. LeMont tested the water himself.

“Before the state understood their own rules, Dickie showed them how to do it,” Perkins said. “We have 44 licensed clam diggers in the town of Phippsburg that owe their living to Dickie for the water quality testing he did.”

Mr. LeMont grew up in Phippsburg and graduated from Morse High School in 1985. He worked briefly for Bodwell Motors, where he met his wife, Cindy LeMont. They were married for 20 years. He also leaves a son from a previous relationship, Michael LeMont of Bath.

Mr. LeMont’s widow described him Monday as an outgoing guy who often extended his hand to help friends and neighbors.

“He loved his life,” his wife said. “He loved being outdoors. You couldn’t keep him down. He was always on the go. He was the type that wouldn’t come inside till it was dark.”

Family and friends will gather Friday at Stetson’s Funeral Home in Brunswick to celebrate Mr. LeMont’s life.

His wife said she will miss his smile and sense of humor.

“We had a great life. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]