AUGUSTA — Like many Mainers, Gov. John Baldacci has suffered personal hardship during the past eight years, including the untimely death of his brother almost five years ago.

But unlike most of us, he held a visible, demanding job that didn’t give him much time to recover in private.

“These are personal hardships and tragedies which are difficult, but they happen in every family in Maine,” he said. “I’m no different than any other family. My wife and son have been a great deal of support to me. I don’t know what I would do without either one of them, really.”

His brother Paul, who at the time ran the family restaurant, Momma Baldacci’s in Bangor, died of a heart ailment in January 2006.

The governor was hospitalized in February 2004 when the vehicle in which he was riding skidded on ice and flipped on its side on Interstate 295. He and the driver, state police Detective James Trask, were injured, although Baldacci was released from the hospital that evening. He suffered bruises and a broken rib, but needed no time off from his job.

A year later, Baldacci broke three ribs when he slipped on ice outside Blaine House while retrieving his newspapers.

Ten days later, he was hospitalized when he reinjured one of his ribs while watching a sporting event at home with his son.

A personal bright spot for Baldacci and his wife, Karen, was watching their son, Jack, grow, attend Cony High School in Augusta and go on to the University of Maine in Orono.

In May, at the Democratic State Convention in Lewiston, Jack addressed delegates during a tribute to his father.

“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever known,” he said.

Through the years, Baldacci, one of eight children, often quoted his parents and talked about the influence of his large Italian-Lebanese family.

Both his parents died before he became governor. His father, Robert E. Baldacci Sr., died in June 1993; his mother, Rosemary (Karam) Baldacci, died in February 2002.

“I was raised by probably the two best parents anybody could ever have, and teaching us about public service, and the need to do things more than for ourselves,” he said.

As he looked back on his time in office, and the personal challenges he faced, he quoted both.

“It’s like my dad saying, ‘So what have you done for the people today?’” he said. “It’s always about them. It’s not about us. That’s the way I’ve been raised.”

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan M. Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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