November 29, 2012

Kennebunkport mourns loss of businessman

As a selectman and active resident, Mathew Lanigan, 48, was active in the town's Christmas Prelude festival.

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

Mathew Lanigan, a selectman and prominent business owner in Kennebunkport, died Tuesday of complications from brain surgery. He was 48.

click image to enlarge

Matthew and Jennifer Lanigan with their three young children, Carter, 7, Bryce, 8, and Audrey, 4.

Family photo

Lanigan was a longtime supporter of the town's annual Christmas Prelude, a popular holiday festival in downtown Kennebunkport that begins this weekend.

Thousands are expected to fill Dock Square at 5:30 p.m. Friday for a tree-lighting, which will be dedicated to Lanigan.

"Mat has been such an integral part of this celebration for so many years," said Sheila Matthews-Bull, chair of the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen, who also leads the Prelude committee. "We will feel the loss on a personal level, but when the guests come in for Prelude, we want them to enjoy it the way they always do. It's what Mat would have wanted."

He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lanigan of Kennebunkport, and their three young children, Bryce, 8, Carter, 7, and Audrey, 4.

Lanigan owned and operated The Emporium in downtown Kennebunkport for 17 years.

He sold gifts and collectibles from around the world. He was an active member of the Kennebunkport Business Association.

Matthews-Bull said he was well known and respected in the community.

"Mat loved the community," she said. "He loved the spirit of the community. He loved being a part of the community."

For many years, Lanigan volunteered to decorate for Christmas Prelude. He was in charge of stringing the lights and greenery on the bridge and holiday tree in Dock Square. Lanigan did not participate this year.

He underwent surgery on Nov. 19 to repair a brain aneurysm. There were complications during his surgery and he never recovered.

Lanigan served on the Board of Selectmen for the past eight years, including as chairman from 2007 to 2009.

As a selectman, he served on the board of directors for Kennebunkport Emergency Medical Services.

In recent years, he was involved in contract negotiations for Regional School Unit 21. He was on the building committee to refurbish Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

Town Manager Larry Mead issued a statement this week noting Lanigan's dedication to the community and his work on the school.

"Mat Lanigan cast a wide shadow in Kennebunkport," Mead said. "Mat's death is an immense loss. Mat's gifts were many, including energy, commitment, dedication and an irrepressible zest for life. All of us in town government grieve his passing."

Lanigan and his wife celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in October.

They got married at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport. A celebration of his life will be held there Tuesday.

Lanigan was remembered by friends Thursday as an upbeat and outgoing guy who generously gave his time to help others.

Tina Hewett-Gordon, a close family friend, said he was the guy people called for advice about matters of the heart, business or home repairs.

"He was always there for everyone," she said. "He had a wonderful life. He had a wonderful business, a beautiful wife, wonderful children and a great supportive community. This whole thing is tragic. The community will rally together to make sure Jennifer and the kids are taken care of and that his memory lives on."

Visiting hours will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 8 p.m. Monday at Bibber Memorial Chapel on Summer Street in Kennebunk.

A celebration of his life is planned for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Nonantum Resort.


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


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