Wednesday, December 11, 2013
WATERBORO — Willis Lord spent his days milking cows and raising beef cattle on his farm in Waterboro.
Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.
But he found the time to serve his town and his state, for 12 years in the Legislature and several terms as a Waterboro selectman.
During his years of community service, he was the town's road commissioner, a school board member, a finance committee member, the town meeting moderator, a volunteer firefighter and a charter commissioner.
He also wrote a history of Waterboro.
Mr. Lord, who was 94, died at his home on Jan. 16.
"Willis was kind of a legend here," said Dennis Abbott, 62, a Waterboro selectman.
Mr. Lord was born on Dec. 25, 1918, and grew up in Saugus, Mass. and graduated from Essex Agricultural School.
He moved to Maine in the late 1930s and bought a farm on Chadbourne Ridge Road in Waterboro. He started out raising broiler chickens, then converted the farm to accommodate a dairy herd and beef cattle.
He named it Lord Rock Farm, said a daughter, Judith Fay of Waterboro. "He named it that because the fields were full of rocks," she said.
At the dairy farm's peak, Mr. Lord and his farmhand were milking about 60 cows.
Fay said her father was active in town politics when she was a child.
"They'd hold selectmen's meetings at our house. I can remember, when I was a little girl, I'd sit at the top of the stairs and listen to them talk," Fay said.
Fay said her father served in the Maine House of Representatives for 10 years starting in the 1980s before he was termed out of office. He then ran for the Maine Senate and won election to a two-year term.
"He was strong-willed and outspoken. He stuck to his guns and fought for what he believed in. He just loved politics," Fay said.
Doug Foglio, who is now Waterboro's road commissioner, served on the Board of Selectmen with Mr. Lord. He said his friend could be blunt.
"He was old school. He told it like it was. He could raise a few hackles now and then," Foglio said. "But he put in a lot of hours for the town and was very dedicated to serving the town."
Abbott, the selectman, said his grandfather served with Mr. Lord on the Board of Selectmen in the 1960s.
"Willis has a long pedigree of serving the public," Abbott said. "He had a calling to be involved in public service, but if he had an opinion, he wasn't afraid to express it. He was always looking out for the town's best interests."
A second daughter, Janice Meyer of Lexington, Ky., said that while her father was devoted to farming, politics was his true passion.
"He was a man of strong convictions. He was never wishy-washy. You always knew where he stood. There was no gray with him," Meyer said.
Meyer said she was always impressed with how her father juggled public service with his work on the farm. The pressure of running a farm and making sure the equipment kept running was always there.
"His favorite saying was, 'Hoop a ding, let 'er rip," Meyer said.
Another daughter, Patricia Joyce, moved back to Maine in 2010 to care for her father. Mr. Lord's wife, Barbara, died in 2003.
He died last week in the home he built for his wife and himself on land that was part of the farm.
"We still talked about him living to be 100. It just wasn't meant to be," Joyce said.
Joyce said she is proud of her father's service to the town and state.
He helped to create Waterboro's recycling program in the 1990s, and the service has saved the town thousands of dollars over the years.
Mr. Lord served on the York County Budget Committee into his 90s, leaving in 2009.
"You always knew where things stood with him. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind," Joyce said. "That's what he will be remembered for."
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: