December 31, 2012

Reed, educators, among notable Maine deaths in 2012

By GLENN ADAMS, The Associated Press


John H. Reed, a potato farming boy who became Maine governor by surprise and then went on to serve an ambassadorship, is perhaps the best-known Mainer or person with close ties to the state who died during 2012.

The list includes other politicians, educators, business leaders and Mainers who achieved fame in unique ways. Frank Knight was longtime protector of New England's tallest elm tree, actress Phyllis Thaxter was seen by millions playing her "Superman" movie role, and Bryce Bayer invented a part used in nearly every digital camera.

Reed, 91, died Oct. 31 in Washington, D.C., after an illustrious life in politics.

A Fort Fairfield native, Reed grew up in a potato farming family and served in the Navy during World War II and in the Maine Legislature from 1955 to 1959. While he was state Senate president, Reed became governor in September 1959 upon the unexpected death of Gov. Clinton Clauson. Reed was appointed in 1967 to the National Transportation Safety Board and was U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives in 1976-77.

Others who died during the year include:

Hugh Edwin Young, 94, who became University of Maine president in 1965, died Jan. 2 in Madison, Wis. Young became University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor in 1968, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era, and was dubbed "War Maker, Strike Breaker" for his harsh stance against anti-war protesters.

Rushworth Kidder, a writer and founder of the Rockport, Maine-based Institute for Global Ethics, died March 5 in Naples, Fla., at age 67. Kidder kept a home in Lincolnville.

Hattie M. Bickmore, 78, the first woman to chair the Maine Republican Party, died March 16 of lung cancer at a Scarborough hospice. A Marine Corps veteran, Bickmore was left widowed with five children when her husband drowned in a boating accident in 1967. She became active in Republican party politics and served as state party chair between 1978 and 1982. Bickmore was a delegate to several national party conventions.

Samuel Collins Jr., 88, a former Maine supreme court justice who previously served five terms in the state Senate, died March 22 at his home in Rockland. A Caribou native, he was the uncle of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. He was appointed supreme court justice in 1988 and served until his retirement in 1994. He had served leadership roles in the Senate.

Hilton Kramer, 84, the former chief art critic at The New York Times and founding editor of The New Criterion magazine, died in an assisted living facility in Harpswell on March 27.

Frank Knight, 103, of Yarmouth, whose decades-long battle to save New England's tallest elm tree served as an inspiring tale of devotion, died May 14 in hospice care. Knight had affectionately referred to the 217-year-old elm, nicknamed Herbie, as "an old friend." The massive tree, dying of Dutch elm disease, was cut down and wood from the tree was used to make Knight's casket.

Joe Tiede, 84, a retired sportswriter and editor for The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., died June 22 at his home in Wilmington, N.C. A Bowdoin College graduate, Tiede launched his sportswriting career in 1955 in Bangor. He wrote for the StarNews of Wilmington, N.C., before joining The News & Observer staff in 1956.

Peter Kyros, 86, who represented Maine's 1st Congressional District from 1967 to 1975, died July 10. The Portland native worked on war ships in Bath at the start of World War II, enlisted in the Navy in 1943, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. After leaving the Navy in 1954, Kyros earned a law degree from Harvard Law School. He served in Congress during a turbulent period that included the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.

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