NEW GLOUCESTER – While lying in a hospice bed last week, Arthur E. Waitley offered some life advice to a friend.

“Love one another,” said Waitley, a Yarmouth pastor from New Gloucester who was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago. “Because if you love one another, everything else will just fall into place.”

His wife, Rebecca Waitley, said those were some of the last words her husband spoke before he died Thursday at age 63.

Rebecca, who affectionately called Waitley “Chuck” after Charlie Brown, described him as the “gentlest, kindest and (most) compassionate soul you’ll ever meet.”

Mr. Waitley was born in 1947 in the small Midwestern town of Portland, Ind. He was raised by his mother, who used to walk her eight children, all of them holding hands in a line, down the town’s main street, said Rebecca.

Mr. Waitley played basketball at the local high school and earned the nickname “Howdy Doody.” He later joined the U.S. Air Force, performing clerical work stateside during the Vietnam War. 

When his service was up, Mr. Waitley moved to Maine and took a job with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, where in the late 1970s he met Rebecca, who was an intern.

They fell in love, married and had two children, Tim, now 29, and Sarah, 27.

Mr. Waitley had a third child, Stephen, 39, from a previous marriage.

Mr. Waitley left the sheriff’s office after 18 years to help run BreakTime, a snack company he operated with his wife.

But he dreamed of a career in the ministry, and soon learned from a church associate about Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mr. Waitley enrolled when he was in his late 40s, and the family moved to Colorado for five years while he studied.

Rebecca Waitley said her husband’s favorite pastime was freshwater fishing for bass. He was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning on days when he fished, and often wore a shirt that read, “Born to fish. Forced to work.”

She also joked he was one of the least mechanically inclined men she’s ever met. He had trouble working a cassette player, and if someone asked him for a screwdriver — a Phillips-head, perhaps — he’d respond, “I’ve got two kinds, a red one and yellow one.”

After studying at Nazarene, Mr. Waitley returned with his family to Maine, where he worked for 10 years as a pastor at the Yarmouth Church of the Nazarene.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer about five years ago and underwent treatment. The disease went into remission, but tests performed a few years ago showed the cancer had spread.

Waitley spent the last eight days of his life in hospice care and died in the company of his wife and his children Tim and Sarah.

His son Stephen saw him shortly before.

“It’s OK, Dad,” Rebecca said the family told Waitley as he faded. “You’ll be out of pain.”

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:

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