Davis McFadden, a devoted family man and dedicated volunteer for the Orr’s & Bailey Island Fire Department, died Wednesday after a brief period of declining health. He was 87.

He was the loving husband of Dorothy McFadden, who died at age 86 just 53 days before him, on Sept. 16. The two were married for 67 years.

“My dad died of a broken heart,” said Bradford McFadden of Orr’s Island, the younger of his two sons. “They were so close. It’s a testament to true love. I’m happy that they’re together. I know its where dad wanted to be and I can only wish him the best.”

Mr. McFadden met his future wife when he was 14 and she was 13. His son said they met at the Topsham Fair Grounds, where she and her friend were cleaning horses stalls. Mr. McFadden and a friend would ride their bicycles from Brunswick to Topsham to help them.

“They were sweethearts for the rest of their lives,” his son said.

The McFaddens were married on June 15, 1950, and raised two sons. In their early years, the couple lived on a farm in Brunswick, where they boarded trotter and pacer racehorses. They also kept a large garden and had a handful of animals, including a pet raccoon, several crows and a pet donkey named Charlie, Mr. McFadden’s son said.

“Yeah, I had kind of a strange upbringing,” he said. “They always had an appreciation for the outdoors. It was reflected in the pets we had.”

The family later took up skiing. Mr. McFadden built a 16-foot-by-20-foot camp at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, where they skied and spent weekends for roughly 10 years. At the time, a handful of family friends from Brunswick had cottages at Sugarloaf. His son said most of his memories of skiing involve trying to keep up with his father.

“My dad was a fast skier … a good skier,” he said. “We all kind of learned together.”

The couple later took up snowmobiling in the Moosehead Lake region, where they had a family camp. Mr. McFadden also enjoyed fly fishing for salmon and trout. He also loved feeding the local chipmunks, his son said.

The family spent summers on Orr’s Island, where they had a cabin cruiser named “Lazy Days.” The boat was rigged to go tuna fishing, which Mr. McFadden did throughout the summer.

In 1963, the McFaddens sold their farm in Brunswick and moved to Orr’s Island.

“He loved the ocean,” his son said. “My parents didn’t travel with a destination in mind. They went gunkholing. These were always family outings. I can’t remember a time when my mom didn’t go tuna fishing as well. … They offered us the best of both worlds at different points of our lives.”

Mr. McFadden spent most of his career as a foreman and manager at Jay Brush, a division of Grumbacher art supplies. Later, he worked at The Dolphin Marina in South Harpswell. His son said he did a variety of jobs, from fixing engines to building a cabin cruiser.

“He was a great asset for the boatyard because he could get someone’s engine running again,” his son said. “My dad … he was very resourceful. He could pretty much work on anything. I’m going to miss that a lot.”

Mr. McFadden was a dedicated volunteer for the Orr’s & Bailey Island Fire Department. His son said he volunteered for about 15 years as an ambulance driver.

“He was a great driver,” he said. “He was willing to go out in blizzards in the night. When the state initiated a 911 system, he and another guy drove every possible side road on Orr’s Island, Baily Island and parts of Great Island looking for possible roads that had residents. He was a great supporter of our local station.”

Mr. McFadden was devastated by his wife’s sudden passing. On the day she died, his son drove to Brunswick with his wife, Cindy Bessmer, to be with him.

“He told us that he lost his reason for living,” his son recalled. “He grieved mom terribly. At that point, he … decided to hang it up as well. He just wanted to be with my mom.”

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

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