SOUTH PORTLAND – Edwin Oliver, a retired safety manager for Burnham & Morrill Co. and longtime trustee of the South Portland Church of the Nazarene, died Jan. 27. He was 101.

Mr. Oliver began working at the B&M Baked Beans factory in Portland in 1926. He started his career baking beans and steadily worked his way up the ranks to safety manager. He was responsible for evaluating B&M’s factories throughout New England. He retired in 1972 after nearly 50 years with the company.

His daughter, Janice Shannon of Portland, said Friday that he was a hard worker who developed lifelong friendships with the people.

“He loved his job,” she said. “He was successful at it and enjoyed the camaraderie.”

Mildred Walker Bruce, one of his longtime friends from B&M, remembered Friday the day she severed half of her finger on the meat grinding machine at work. Mr. Oliver rushed to her aid that day in 1942.

“They had to throw away 100 pounds of meat ’cause of that,” Bruce said. “He was a very nice man and a hard worker. He was a good guy, all right. I’ll miss him.”

He was married to Myrtle Oliver for 74 years. The couple met at a fish factory on the former Brown’s Wharf in South Portland.

Shannon said he first noticed her mother as she was cutting sardines on a conveyer belt. One day, he asked if he could walk her home.

“That’s when their romance began,” she said. “He walked her home every night.”

Mr. Oliver and his wife were dedicated and longtime members of the South Portland Church of the Nazarene. For 40 years, he served on the church’s board of trustees. He also volunteered teaching children the Bible and was a superintendent of the church’s Sunday school.

“There are a lot of people today in their 60s that would remember taking his class,” his daughter said. “He was instrumental in (guiding people to the path) of their choosing.”

Mr. Oliver was active in the community in his early years. He volunteered as a firefighter for South Portland’s Engine 1 Co. for 11 years. He also volunteered for 10 years on the city’s zoning board of appeals.

Mr. Oliver had a lifelong passion for the outdoors and enjoyed hunting and fishing. In his early years, he built a camp on Sebago Lake, which still remains in the family today.

Shannon, the youngest of his three children, said they spent nearly every weekend at the lake growing up.

She remembers letting their dog out of the car as her father turned off of Route 302, and cheering as it followed the car to the camp and promptly plunged into the lake.

“As soon as the dog went in, we went in the lake,” his daughter said. “It was a nostalgic time. Every time I go to Sebago Lake, I remember.”

Mr. Oliver would have turned 102 on Feb. 28. On the day he died, Shannon was flying from Portland to Dallas on the first leg of a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. During the flight, she woke up and saw a breathtaking sunset.

“I started to cry I just knew he was gone,” Shannon said Friday. “It was the most beautiful sunset I ever laid eyes on. It was as if the sunset was his gift to me. It was such a wonderful feeling.”


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]