WELLS — John Putnam, retired director of data services for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine, died Saturday. He was 86.

Mr. Putnam began his career with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts, selling health insurance. In 1972, he transferred to Maine and took the position as director of data services.

Mr. Putnam worked closely with the Maine Medical Association and the Maine Hospital Association to collect data on medical procedures done in hospitals around the state. The data has since been used by doctors and other medical professionals to study trends for the treatment of diseases and ways to reduce health care costs.

Tom Putnam, the youngest of Mr. Putnam’s four children, said Monday that his father was considered a pioneer in using data to improve medical services. He said his father loved his work.

“It fit his personality,” he said. “He was a bit of a salesman. He loved to bring people together.”

Mr. Putnam retired in 1987. He and his wife, Ginny Putnam, then sold their home in Kennebunk and spruced up their summer cottage on Moody Beach in Wells, which became their home.

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The couple met on Hampton Beach in New Hampshire after he returned home from serving in World War II. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1.

“They had a beautiful marriage. They complemented each other perfectly,” his son said. “Even in their 80s, they would go to Moody Beach every day and ride the waves on their boogie boards. They had a lot of fun together.”

Mr. Putnam was remembered by his family Monday as a kind and generous man who brought out the best in people.

For the past 10 years or so, he met with students at Kennebunk High School and York County Community College to share his experiences from World War II. At the end of each school year, he was recognized for his contributions at a breakfast organized by Kennebunk students.

Joe Foster, a retired teacher at Kennebunk High, said a highlight for Mr. Putnam was leading the 150 people at the breakfast in a sing-a-long.

Mr. Putnam spoke to Foster’s students at York County Community College last year about his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.

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“Each year on the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, John would go to church and say a prayer for that one man he knew he killed, a German soldier,” Foster said. “He was a kind person. He was soft-spoken and a perfect representative of ‘The Greatest Generation.’ I always enjoyed being with John. He was just a good, good man.”

Mr. Putnam had congestive heart failure last year. Doctors told him that a heart valve replacement would strengthen his heart, but Mr. Putnam declined the operation. The recovery time was too long. His son said he embraced life, and made the most of the time he had left.

“He was the type of person who looked on the bright side of things,” his son said. “He often told people he was the luckiest guy in the world. He felt so fortunate for the life he lived. I’ll miss his sense of humor. He had a silly sense of humor and a great wit. He always made you feel good.”

 

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

 


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