BRUNSWICK — Robert A. Frost Jr., who ran Frosty’s Donut Shop in Brunswick for 46 years with his wife, June, died Monday at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was 85.

Frost operated the original shop for five years before moving to the current Frosty’s Donuts on Maine Street.

His son, Gary Frost, said his father wanted to be his own boss. And his wife had friends who knew about doughnuts.

“He had perfected the method and, to be honest, you did everything like any chef,” Gary Frost said. “By that time I would say my dad and brother were expert doughnut chefs.”

Gary Frost said everybody in his family had worked at the business.

“My parents started the shop when I was about 5 or 6,” he said. “I think I started working in the shop when I was 8 and continued to work until I was probably 18 to 20.”

He joked they learned to make doughnuts through what he called the apprentice program. He had his favorites. Chocolate-chocolate and the hot Persian, a cinnamon roll, topped the list. But he couldn’t recall if his father had a favorite.

“I think he probably sampled everything to make sure it was good,” he said.

Running the doughnut shop meant long hours. Gary Frost said his dad started making the donuts at around 2 a.m. As he grew older, he’d go in as early as 10 p.m. to make doughnuts for the next day.

“So yeah, it was definitely time to make the doughnuts for many years,” he said.

His father’s standards were high when it came to donuts and he resisted expanding the business to ensure he could control the quality of the product.

“It’s also just so cool to come back and just hear people talk about what they remember about Frosty’s,” said Gary Frost, who now lives in Wisconsin. “I’m old enough to talk to people about when they were kids and the memories they’ve had and how important my mom and dad were to them. It wasn’t just a doughnut shop. Frosty’s was so much more than that.”

The doughnut shop’s current owner got a taste of that many years ago when he began coming to Maine.

“For years and years, my family would come here and I would say if there’s one business to buy, it’s this one,” said Nels Omdal, who is from Colorado. “I was like wow, these are the best doughnuts I ever had.”

Omdal and his wife, Shelby, bought the business on a whim from Robert Frost in 2012. He didn’t know anything about making doughnuts but Frost taught him the ropes.

Frost graduated from Edward Little High School and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bryant College. He served in the Army during the Korean War.

Frost worked in accounting at The Times Record before he decided to pursue doughnut making.

The couple, who lived in Topsham Heights, found time to go into local nursing homes where Robert Frost would sing and his wife played the accordion. They’d also donate leftover doughnuts to the Tedford homeless shelter, Spindleworks and other organizations.

“He was just a really caring, compassionate person,” Rachel Havu said of her grandfather.

Havu said her grandfather also loved animals. He often volunteered at the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick, now Midcoast Humane. Later in life, her grandparents wanted to become dog breeders and wound up with a litter of puppies they couldn’t sell. They had eight toy poodles they’d take on vacations and roll around in strollers.

“They were quite the characters,” she said.

Frost was preceded in death by his wife and a son, John E. Frost. The funeral service for Robert Frost is set for 3 p.m. Friday at Brackett Funeral Home in Brunswick. That’s also National Donut Day, according to Omdal, who plans to pay tribute to the father of Frosty’s Donuts with a special. Details were still in the works Tuesday.


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