DAMARISCOTTA – His family farm served many purposes during David W. Chapman’s lifetime.

Dairy cattle were raised at Elmhill Farm, insurance policies were sold there, residents paid their property tax bills at the farm, and people from the midcoast would flock to the Damariscotta farm for the annual Miles Memorial Hospital rummage sale.

Mr. Chapman died Friday at Elmhill Farm, in the same room where his father passed away. He was 92.

“I was able to be there with him,” said his daughter Priscilla “Chris” Chapman of Harpswell. “It was a privilege to be part of his final journey.”

Four generations of the Chapmans lived on the 1820s farm, a 90-acre property off Old Route 1.

Mr. Chapman grew up in Damariscotta, graduating from Lincoln Academy in 1936. After high school, he continued to work on the farm where he became one of the original insurance agents for Farm Bureau (Concord Group) Insurance in 1937. He operated the agency from the farm.

In 1944, a chance meeting on a bus led to a courtship that ended in marriage to Madeline Hewitt.

Mr. Chapman had gone to Massachusetts to visit his brother and was returning to Maine. He started chatting with an X-ray technician, who said she was moving to Maine to work at the newly established Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.

They ended up going to dinner that night at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro and eventually got married. Their marriage lasted 54 years. Mrs. Chapman passed away in 1998.

Mrs. Chapman worked her way up from X-ray technician to become the hospital’s administrator.

The Chapmans supported the hospital in any way they could, even offering to host the annual Miles Memorial Rummage Sale at their farm.

“Thousands of people would come to the farm,” his daughter said. “It would take them more than a week just to set up all the tents. They would raise $140,000 in three days. It was pretty phenomenal.”

In the 1980s, the Chapmans hosted the Rotary Club’s Oyster Festival.

“People would come from all over to eat oysters and drink beer. That was a real hoot,” she said.

In addition, the farm served as the site for historic militia re-enactments.

Mr. Chapman served as the town of Damariscotta’s tax collector and treasurer for several years.

His daughter said residents would come to the family farm to pay their excise taxes, their property tax bills, and on occasion would turn in porcupine feet for a bounty fee paid by the town.

Mr. Chapman acquired the Western Auto store in downtown Damariscotta. He ran that business for nearly 20 years.

After he retired from Western Auto, Mr. Chapman served on the St. Patrick’s Church parish council, on the board of the Nobleboro Historical Society and did a lot of community service work.

He delivered Meals on Wheels to elderly shut-ins. He would offer a hand whenever he could. Mr. Chapman would gladly change a burned out lightbulb or fix a leaky faucet, his daughter said.

“Anyone who met my father would remember him. He was genuinely happy to meet people. He was one of the most nonjudgmental people I ever met,” Chapman said.

His second daughter, Mary E. Gallagher, died three years ago.

Though he received several offers to sell Elmhill Farm, Mr. Chapman never accepted. Walmart even offered him $1.5 million for the farm a few years ago, his daughter said.

“He said to them, what do you do, work for the government?” his daughter recalled. “He’d say to me what would I do with a million dollars. I’ve got everything I want right here.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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