BUXTON – Residents of Cemetery Road in Buxton would surely know Brian Flanders Sr.

He spent hours a day sitting on his farmers porch wearing a hat printed with the name USS Barry, the ship he was stationed on during his Navy years. Hanging from his porch was an American flag, a “Betsy Ross” flag, a U.S. Navy flag and the Maine state flag.

“He would say hi to anyone that walked by his house,” said his oldest son, Brian Flanders Jr., also of Gorham. “Many people would walk right up the porch and have a seat and talk to him.”

He died on Tuesday after a period of declining health. He was 71.

Mr. Flanders was remembered Thursday as a proud Navy veteran who gave generously to his neighbors and the community.

He grew up in Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood. He graduated from Portland High School in 1959 and enlisted in the Navy. His son said he was a disbursing clerk in the Navy and rose to the rank of chief petty officer. He served in the Pentagon during the Vietnam War.

“He was very patriotic and proud of his service to this country,” his son said.

Mr. Flanders was discharged in 1973 and moved to Portland with his wife and children. He later worked at Brunswick Naval Air Station as a payroll supervisor. He processed travel vouchers for military personnel and reimbursed people for expenses they incurred.

“He was a pretty popular guy,” his son said. “He was the guy who held the purse strings.”

At home, he was a devoted father and husband to his wife, Ann Marie Schaeffer. The couple was married twice for a total of 17 years and raised six children.

“They couldn’t live with each other and couldn’t live without each other,” his son said. “My mom died 10 years ago. He always kept a picture of her on his living room wall next to his favorite chair. They were the most significant people in each other’s lives. He was never the same after she died. He lost his lust for life.”

Mr. Flanders found joy in talking with neighbors and volunteering at the food pantry at Grace Baptist Church in Portland, where he was a member for many years. His son said he stocked the pantry shelves and delivered food to church members in need. In recent years, he offered odd jobs to neighbors who were struggling to make ends meet.

“He was in a good situation and willing to share with those less fortunate,” his son said. “He will be really missed by folks he helped a lot.”

Mr. Flanders had a passion for making and selling fishing lures. He enjoyed spending time at the family camp and often rode his bicycle there, an estimated 55-mile trek.

“He was an independent spirit. He loved nature and loved the outdoors,” his son said. “He had been a guiding presence in our lives and a big fan of ours. He always believed that problems were opportunities and that there’s a chance for new learning in every problem. He didn’t like negative talk about things, even when things were bad. He was a plugger.”

 

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

mcreamer@pressherald.com