GORHAM – Gregory D. Schlieper loved to use his hands and build things. He built decks for his pool and home. He painted rooms and built a tree fort for his companion’s children.

In the 1990s, he tinkered constantly with his red 1960s Chevrolet Camaro. More recently, he reworked the engine of his 2004 Ford Mustang.

“He loved being active,” said Donna Schlieper, 23, his only child. “He loved being outside and working on those cars.”

Mr. Schlieper, 49, passed away unexpectedly Thursday at his home.

Mr. Schlieper’s family remembered his many passions. Donna Schlieper recalled his fondness for action movies, especially those starring Clint Eastwood.

He also loved his Bernese Mountain Dog, Buford, and writing poetry and prose. He recently finished his first novel, said Anne Dionne, his companion.

Mr. Schlieper especially loved the Civil War. He collected Civil War memorabilia such a pistols, rifles and letters, his family said. He frequently read books and watched movies on the Civil War, and helped his daughter in her U.S. history classes.

His love of the military came from his father, Army Col. David Schlieper, Dionne said.

“That was definitely an interest they both shared,” she said. “There was a strong connection there.”

Mr. Schlieper was born in 1962 on a U.S. military base in Nuremberg, Germany. When he was a child, his family lived at a variety of military bases in Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maine.

Mr. Schlieper ultimately attended the University of Southern Maine, and later settled down in the state. He studied criminology, sociology and history at USM.

Out of college, Mr. Schlieper worked as a police officer in the Lisbon Falls and South Portland departments. But when his wife got pregnant with Donna, he decided to forgo the dangers of policing.

He took a job at Unum, the Portland-based insurance company, and worked there for the final 26 years of his life. He originally worked in sales, but finished as the company’s chief disability underwriter.

Dionne, who also worked at Unum and met Mr. Schlieper there, called him “the most caring person I’ve ever known.” He volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and the United Way, and loved to work with animals.

As a child, Mr. Schlieper suffered from a blood disorder. As an adult, he tried to donate blood every six weeks to help others who needed it.

Despite the disorder, he remained in tremendous physical condition. He was an avid runner, family members said, and he entertained relatives, co-workers and friends by doing push-ups with one hand or with children sitting on his back.

“He built big, he loved big,” Dionne said. “Everything he did was big.”

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

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