Patrick Edward McCarthy, a former chancellor for the University of Maine System, died last week at his home on Christmas Cove in the Lincoln County town of South Bristol. He was 85.

McCarthy’s obituary said he died following a heart attack on Oct. 12.

McCarthy, who also had a home in Topsham, served as chancellor of the system from 1975 to 1986, overseeing seven universities across the state.

Born July 23, 1930, in Rumford, McCarthy had nine siblings and was the oldest son of John Wallace McCarthy Sr., and Margaret Clair Whalen McCarthy.

He was named for his paternal grandfather – Patrick Edward McCarthy, a 1902 graduate of the University of Maine, who served for many years as the superintendent of the International Paper Mill Company in Rumford.

McCarthy graduated from Bridgton Academy and served in the Marine Corps. He also attended Dartmouth College, the University of Maine at Orono, and graduated with a master’s degree in City Planning from Harvard University.


In 1963, McCarthy moved to Ireland and worked for four years as chief adviser to the United Nations mission for economics and planning research.

After returning, McCarthy was hired by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. He was appointed chancellor of Higher Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1972, holding the position until he was named chancellor of the University of Maine System in 1975.

When he resigned in September 1986, his decision to leave the university generated tributes from the presidents of the seven campuses.

Frederic Reynolds, president of the University of Maine at Machias, said at the time that McCarthy was “a brilliant leader.” Reynolds said McCarthy was instrumental in getting a mobile graduate program for teachers to come to Machias because a lot of the teachers could not travel to Orono to get their master’s degrees.

“Patrick was intelligent, insightful, and simultaneously charming and challenging. He was big and strong, with a lion’s mane of white hair and blue eyes,” his family wrote in his obituary. “He loved good food, and he loved to cook, banning interlopers and kibitzers from his kitchen while he was at the stove.”

His pastimes included: boats and sailing races, poetry, painting watercolors and fly-fishing.

He is survived by his wife, Norma Joan “Tiger” Lear, his five children, 10 grandchildren, and several siblings.

A funeral mass was held Monday and a celebration of his life will be held next summer at Christmas Cove.

Funeral arrangements were handled by the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta.

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