April 3, 2013

Feature obituary: George 'Joe' Hutchins, 85, businessman, gave to others

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

YARMOUTH – George "Joe" Hutchins, an accomplished businessman who, according to his son, dedicated his life to family and helping others, died Saturday after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 85.

Mr. Hutchins was the founder and longtime owner of Hutchins Trucking Co. He was active in numerous service organizations.

He grew up in Sebago, the youngest of five children. His family was poor. As a boy, he worked at Douglas Hill Orchard picking apples and tending trees to earn money to help his family.

His mother died when he was 17. Soon after, he went to work for Fulham Brothers on the Portland waterfront. There, he rose through the ranks to become manager of its fish processing plant.

As part of his job, Mr. Hutchins organized transportation of the company's products to Boston and Gloucester, Mass. His inability to find a reliable driver led him to start his own trucking company.

In 1960, he bought a truck and trailer and founded Hutchins Transportation, according to his obituary. In 1968, he started a second company, Columbia Transportation, to haul groceries from Massachusetts to Maine for a regional grocery chain, which was eventually acquired by Hannaford Bros. Mr. Hutchins merged his trucking operations into one firm, Hutchins Trucking Co., which today has 95 employees and is operated by his son Mark Hutchins of Falmouth.

Joe Hutchins was remembered by his son on Tuesday as honest, hardworking and successful.

"My dad had very good instincts," he said. "He had many opportunities to do different things. ... He was very hardworking and surrounded himself with good people. That was the key for him."

Mr. Hutchins was involved in many business ventures. His obituary notes that he was part owner of Pleasant Mountain, now called Shawnee Peak. He also operated Hutchins Data Systems, Hutchins Used Car Sales, Reliable Fasteners and HR Development. In 1988, he also co-founded Atlantic Great Dane, a truck trailer sales and service company.

He had many other successful businesses. He had some failures, too. His son recalled an ice cream store called Sundae School that his father helped a friend establish in Falmouth. It was a bust, but the opportunity gave him plenty of ice cream, which he loved.

"If it sounded like a good, sound idea, he would give it his all," his son said. "Some (ideas) worked out very well and others didn't. ... It was about trying something new and making a go of it. That's what he loved."

He was married to Ruth Hutchins for 63 years. The couple raised five children. Mark Hutchins emphasized his father's devotion to family. He said his father worked hard to give them a good life. He reminisced about their summers at Sebago Lake, skiing at Pleasant Mountain, and golfing with his father.

"His whole life was about taking care of his family financially and having fun with us," his son said. "He was a fun guy. He loved family. The more family around, the better. The more people around, the better. He didn't miss a thing."

Mr. Hutchins was active in numerous service organizations, such as the Falmouth Lions Club and the Kora Shrine Temple in Lewiston.

"He was a very generous man," his son said. "He gave away a lot of money to a lot of people and organizations. It was part of his makeup. He did very well for himself and thought it was important to support the community. He did so his whole life."

Mr. Hutchins was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003. Most recently, he lived at Bay Square in Yarmouth. He died there Saturday surrounded by his family.

"He fought it every inch of the way," his son said.

 

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

mcreamer@pressherald.comPASSAGES

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.

 

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