Charles McLaughlin had a lot to be grateful for.
He had a successful career in the construction industry, and had a hand in building some of Portland’s most recognizable landmarks such as Franklin Towers and Maine Medical Center. He became a construction foreman and later served as president of Laborers’ Local 12 for many years.
Mr. McLaughlin had four children and ten grandchildren, all of whom admired him. He had many friends who enjoyed spending time with him. But it wasn’t always the case.
Though he achieved much in life, Mr. McLaughlin was most grateful for being sober and working with others in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mr. McLaughlin died Tuesday with 27 years of continuous sobriety. He was 82.
“He would shout it from the rooftops that he was a recovering alcoholic and he was proud of it,” his daughter Charlene Hoffman said Wednesday.
Mr. McLaughlin grew up on Munjoy Hill. He attended Cathedral School, but quit in the eighth grade to work and help support his family. In his early years, he worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad. He would later become a construction laborer. He worked and served as foreman on construction projects throughout the Portland area for more than 30 years.
Hoffman said her father was a dedicated and hard-working guy who took pride in his work. She said he was respected in the industry even while drinking.
“He was one of the best,” she said. “Even as a foreman, he didn’t boss guys around. He worked with them. They called him fingers because he lost a few of them. He lost them in drunk driving accident.”
Mr. McLaughlin’s drinking came to a halt in 1986 after a doctor told him he would die in six months if he didn’t quit.
He checked into a local treatment center, and then immersed himself in Portland’s recovery community. He became an active member of the Sahara Club and attended A.A. meetings there regularly. He also devoted much time to helping men who were struggling with alcoholism.
“He chaired many meetings and would share how he lost his fingers, and how his alcoholism caused the demise of his marriage. He wasn’t a good husband and he shared that with people,” Hoffman said. “He tried to get his old friends from Munjoy Hill into the program. A few of them did and they were successful. A few of them didn’t and he attended their funerals.”
Mr. McLaughlin’s sobriety helped strengthen his relationship with his family. He became an active member of the community, volunteering as a driver for RTP for many years.
Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: