December 9, 2012

Fellow police officers give Peter MacVane final 'thumbs up'

The veteran officer, who died of cancer, was known for his generosity and his devotion to Maine Special Olympics.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK - Hundreds of police officers, family members and friends gathered at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center on Sunday to mourn Peter MacVane, a popular South Portland police officer.

click image to enlarge

Police officers arrive at a memorial service for Peter MacVane, a popular South Portland police officer, Sunday at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. MacVane, 61, a 34-year veteran of the department, died Wednesday after a five-year battle with cancer.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A police procession arrives Sunday at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center for MacVane’s memorial service. “Even on his worst days he continued to give us some of our best days,” said South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Mourners passed under a huge American flag over Stroudwater Road, strung between two South Portland Fire Department ladder trucks, to arrive at the service, where dozens of officers from departments around the state lined the walkway. Inside, the Rev. David Brennnan, South Portland Police Department chaplain, led the service.

MacVane, 61, a 34-year veteran of the department, died Wednesday after a five-year battle with cancer.

MacVane was remembered as tough, courageous, generous and funny. He was known for his signature thumbs-up salute and his dedication to Maine Special Olympics. Generations of schoolchildren also knew him as Officer Friendly, for his years spent teaching elementary students about safety.

"Even on his worst days he continued to give us some of our best days. The city of South Portland was incredibly blessed," said South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins.

He continued to work until just days before his death. Googins said that was typical of MacVane, who started out on the department working night shifts and went on to become one of its first motorcycle officers.

Lt. Frank Clark said MacVane loved the thrill of riding a motorcycle over the back roads of Maine.

"Speed might have been one of his needs," said Clark.

He was famous for taking photos, talking people into humorous poses and sharing them with friends.

Lisa Bird, public relations director for Maine Special Olympics, said she has a special file on her computer filled with hundreds of photos MacVane sent her.

Bird said MacVane's fundraising for her organization -- leading plunges into the icy Atlantic in winter and camping out on rooftops during hot summer nights -- was widely appreciated by the athletes.

Bird said one time a terrible thunderstorm struck as MacVane camped out. She raced to the scene, concerned about his welfare and pleaded with him to come down.

"He said, 'Are you kidding me? What a way to go,' " she said.

After that, Bird said, she figured he was so strong, she needn't worry about him.

"I never thought we would get here because he was so strong," Bird said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Family and friends of Officer Peter MacVane arrive at his memorial service at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center Sunday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Peter MacVane and his son Ian, then 7, take part in a New Year’s Day plunge for charity in 1997.

1997 Press Herald file

 


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