If you are from Away and new to the Bath area I hope that you might find this article helpful. My wife, Jan and I are also from Away; the Chicago suburbs to be exact. I was a transplant from New England and Jan grew up in the city.

I held various positions in the medical technology business and Jan worked in telecommunications. We worked very hard, payed our taxes, raised our family, had great friends and neighbors and saved our way to retirement. But where?

It had been my privilege to visit virtually every major city in this Great Country during my 46 years in the medical business and I found good people in every quadrant of the U.S. but no state impressed me as much as Maine. We have verdant forests, impressive mountains and lakes and an ocean coastline that takes your breath away. Truly, Maine is the reason that postcards were invented. But the real decider for me was simply Mainers.

There are exceptions of course, but my impression of the people of Maine are that they are friendly, kind, helpful, hardworking and very resilient.

So, I convinced my city girl to retire to Maine. She picked Bath: the Patten Free Library, the Mustard Seed Bookstore, excellent restaurants, great hospital nearby, and a fine College in the next town.

And we didn’t know a soul. And this is where the story really begins.

Mark Shipsey, who chaired the Design Committee for Main Street Bath had invited me volunteer on some of the routine projects for which he is responsible and that is where I met Tom Edwards.

Tom, with his shock of snow-white hair, fine sense of humor and soft-spoken manner is about my age, easy to like, and so for a second year I met him early on a blustery April Sunday morning at the intersection of Front and Center Streets. We had our step ladders and tools in the back of our pickups and were proceeding to hang the artwork that the school children create to beautify the downtown area. And so up and down the ladders like curbside art critics we decide which piece will look best on the light pole in front of City Hall, across from Byrnes’ Irish Pub, in front of Renys and so on, and so on, up and down, up and down.

Tom then steers the conversation to how we like Bath and I admit that we are besotted by this little City but have found that a lot of the folks here have pretty deep roots and already have family and friends. Tom listens. “How long have you been here now?” “Coming up to four years,” I replied. “Don’t you think it’s time you give something back.” and he invited me to be his guest at lunch the following Tuesday at the Bath Rotary Club Meeting.

That first Lunch: Tom had prepped me:

The weekly meeting is about one hour in duration.

Cell phones are turned off. $5 fine

No discussion of religion. $5 fine

No discussion of politics. $5 fine

Wear your Rotary Club Pin – fine

Wear your name tag — fine

The Rotary Club Mantra is: Service Above Self.

The Four Way Test is applied to every activity and charitable undertaking that Rotary Club commits to:

I. Is it the TRUTH?

II. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


IV. Will it be

BENEFICIAL to all concerned ?

I arrived 15 minutes early as pretty much everyone does. This is the time that everyone meets friends in Rotary and catches up.

Lee Patenaude, 37 years in the Rotary Club greets me with a warm smile. (He has a great welcoming smile).

Next, a voice that is so bass that it sounds like summer thunder rolling off the western mountains, Joe Hahn wearing something Navy introduces himself and welcomes me. Jeff Labbe, our then President introduces himself and welcomes me.

The bell sounds and the meeting begins. We start with the pledge of allegiance to our Flag and Country.

Next comes the invocation. Not every U.S. Rotary Club includes this in their opening, but it feels perfectly normal in Bath. It just fits with this community. On this particular day George Dole offered the invocation. He is a retired minister. He is a diminutive man and one of our senior members. He is also a scholar who studied at Oxford and translates ancient Greek and Latin for other scholars. He was also an athlete who befriended Roger Bannister and was also one of the runners who paced Bannister as he attempted and broke the 4 minute mile. But when he spoke this day and ever since, he was not trying to lead us to the river to be baptized, he was talking about our common humanity and our goals as Rotarians. I was inspired. And I am inspired every time that man speaks.

Rotary was established in Chicago (of all places, I did not know ) in 1917 and the Bath Rotary was established two years later in 1919. We are coming up to our 100 year anniversary.

Here are some things you should know:

The military:

Joe Hahn, career navy, helped to established Bath Sunrise Rotary Club for those whose work life did not permit middle of the day absence.

Yes, Bath a city of about 10,000 including our neighbors on the peninsulas has two great Rotary clubs.

Lee Patenaude – Army

John Evans – Navy Aviation – Captain and past President

Ron Sullivan – Air Force – Military Attache at various posts around the world and the Air Force Academy

Tom Edwards – Air Force

Rich Cromwell – Army

It seemed to me that when people muster out of the U.S. Military they can’t stop serving their country and the world and the people they have shouldered beside.

Yes, we have seniors and more than half are working folks. Haley Girard, one of our new members and chiropractor just brought her new baby, Eliza to a recent meeting. Our newest ex officio member.

By the way, we now count count Tom and Maggie Edwards as friends. As well as Mike and Angel Jameson and John and Nancy Evans.

We learned that in this community being from Away is not a stigma, it just means that you might need the community that the Bath Rotary Club can offer.

Next time I want to tell you about the exciting projects we are working on.

If you are curious, be our guest for lunch at J R Maxwells, Tuesdays at noon.

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