December 4, 2013

Feature obituary: Karen Geary, 68, co-founder of D.L. Geary Brewing Company

She was the first woman to own and operate a brewery in Maine.

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Karen Geary, a co-founder of D.L. Geary Brewing Company and the first women to own and operate a brewery in Maine, died Thursday after a courageous fight with cancer. She was 68.

Friends and family will gather from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at J.P. Thornton’s Bar and Grille in South Portland to celebrate and honor a woman they say was a driving force behind the success of the company.

She owned and operated the Portland brewery with her former husband, David L. “D.L.” Geary for over 25 years. According to its website, the Gearys started the company in 1983 with a shared vision to produce “world class products on a small scale for local and regional consumption.” On Dec. 10, 1986, the first pints of Geary’s Pale Ale were sold. Since then, Geary’s has added numerous other beers to its product line, including seasonal specialties and limited edition/single-batch releases. Geary’s products are distributed to 15 states along the east coast and as far west as Ohio.

Mrs. Geary was largely responsible for keeping the operation running smoothly. She handled the human resources work, receivables, payables, insurances, and state and federal regulatory issues.

D.L. Geary, who now operates the brewery with their daughter, Kelly Lucas, is the public face of the company. He’s the brewer and recipe keeper. He handles the beer samples, marketing and branding of its products.

Kelly Lucas said her parents worked well together. She said her mother felt a huge source of pride in making a quality product that people appreciate.

“She was one of the first women in the industry,” her daughter said. “She was really proud of what she had accomplished. (Geary’s) is her legacy.”

She was married to D.L. Geary for almost 20 years. The couple raised two children. They ended their marriage in 1989, but continued to work side by side.

“She was the mother of my children, a great business partner and I loved her,” D.L Geary said on Tuesday. “I admired her strength and her ability to stay focused and get a very difficult job done.”

Mrs. Geary, of Westbrook, was well known throughout the Portland area. She was remembered this week as loving, creative, warm and generous. She enjoyed gardening, cooking, painting and spending time with family.

“She was a no-nonsense mom,” her daughter said. “She taught me to work hard and value family time and traditions. She taught me to have fun. She loved her children fiercely and would do anything for us.”

She is also survived by her son, Matthew Geary and his wife Lorie and their 2 year-old son, Benjamin, of San Francisco, Calif. Mrs. Geary had the opportunity to see her grandson a few times before she died of cancer on Thanksgiving. He was the joy of her life, Lucas said.

Mrs. Geary had her first brush with breast cancer many years ago and beat her cancer. It was in remission for 17 years before it returned in 2010. She fought her cancer with grace, courage and positivity. Her daughter said she made every moment count.

“She was someone who always had a smile on her face,” Lucas said. “She was determined to move forward and treat it and hope for the best and cherish the gifts she had been given.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:mcreamer@pressherald.com

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