WINDHAM – A well-known Windham real estate agent, Wayne Syphers, died over the weekend following a brief illness.

Syphers, who had suffered from health issues for many years and succumbed to pneumonia Saturday at the age of 64, was beloved by fellow agents and brokers around the state. In June, Syphers was recognized as the 2011 Realtor of the Year by the Greater Portland Board of Realtors.

Kelly Craig, executive officer for the board, said Syphers’s death came as a shock and that he will be missed greatly.

“Wayne could not have been more of a gentleman,” Craig said. “When he spoke, you could tell he had thought about it and was thoroughly prepared. And he wouldn’t speak in an overbearing way but with authority because he was someone who did his homework. He had quiet, competent leadership.”

Craig said Syphers, who was also a board member of the Maine Association of Realtors, served on the state association’s legislative committee, which acts as a lobbying body for the state’s regional boards. Craig said Syphers was a “big-picture guy” who advocated strongly for the rights of home ownership.

Syphers got into real estate after a 30-year law enforcement career, 20 years of which were spent in Westbrook, where he rose to the level of deputy chief. According to Mike Sanphy, who recently retired from the department and keeps a detailed history for the Westbrook Historical Society, Syphers was hired in 1968 as a patrolman. In 1973, he became the city’s first Youth Aid Division officer and served as supervisor of the juvenile crime department until 1982, when he became deputy chief under Carmine Russo and then Ronald Allanach. He retired in 1988.

Sanphy, who was hired six months after Syphers, remembers Syphers as a “great guy, always friendly,” and “people took to him.” Sanphy said Syphers also had the respect of the troubled kids he was assigned to work with in the juvenile division, as well as their parents.

After leaving Westbrook, Syphers worked in the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for 10 years before making the move into the real estate industry in the late 1990s. He was a sales manager with Coldwell Banker Harnden Beecher, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and ERA Today Realty, all with offices in the Lakes Region. At the time of his death, he was serving as an associate broker at Better Homes and Gardens, the Masiello Group in North Windham.

Todd Harvey, former co-owner of ERA Today Realty who sold to New Hampshire-based Masiello last year, courted Syphers for years before Syphers accepted the offer to join the firm as sales manager.

“We always respected Wayne and wanted him on our team. His integrity, his ethics, just his exuberance really set him apart,” Harvey said. “He was personable and hard-working. He would just never stop, never give in. We’ll miss the guy. It’s too soon for a guy like that.”

Both Harvey and Craig also said Syphers was a positive person and, according to Harvey, “always took a personal interest in how you were doing. He was very sincere.” Craig added, “Wayne was very attuned to people. When he asked you how you were doing, he really wanted to know. He will leave a huge hole in the Realtor community.”

Syphers had about a half-dozen properties on the market at his death. Friend and longtime area Realtor Larry Simpson has taken over those accounts at Sypher’s request. And one of those accounts, Simpson said, is for a house owned by a woman Syphers met while working in Westbrook.

“She said she had to testify in an important case and he held her hand all the way through, and she never forgot it,” Simpson said. “So that was pretty special for him.”

With his knowledge of real estate, Syphers also served his hometown on the Windham Board of Assessment Review for several years. Fellow member David Welch remembers Syphers as a “very knowledgeable guy and a great asset to the board.”

The board hears requests for tax abatements from homeowners who have disputes with the tax assessor. Some of those taxpayers have hardship claims. Welch said Syphers “tried to look out for the general public as far as giving tax abatements” and would “do his homework and come to meetings prepared” after having researched the properties in question.

“He went by the book,” Welch added. “He took courses and he would come back and tell us how to approach certain cases. He had a great deal of common sense as well.”

Since he was named Realtor of the Year for the Greater Portland region, Syphers is now eligible to be named Maine’s Realtor of the Year, an honor bestowed by the Maine Association of Realtors, which chooses candidates from the 12 regional boards.

Simpson nominated Syphers for the local Realtor honor earlier this year and said he would like to see Syphers posthumously recognized.

“I hope he wins,” Simpson said. “It’d be a hell of an honor.”

Craig, who said the choice to select Syphers was a unanimous choice locally, agrees with Simpson.

“I hope they give him the state title as well,” Craig said. “He was very committed to legislative issues on a statewide scale and really deserves the title as Realtor of the Year for the state.”

Syphers leaves his wife, Anne, two sons, Chad and Eric, who have also gone into law enforcement, as well as four grandchildren. In an interview last month after being named Greater Portland’s Realtor of the Year, Syphers said he was enjoying dividing his time between his work and watching his grandchildren’s many activities.

Wayne Syphers

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.