Fred Jay Ayer III

PORTLAND – Fred Jay Ayer III passed away peacefully on Oct. 25, 2019. He was born on Feb. 19, 1947, in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and was the son of Irene and Fred Ayer.

A graduate of Littleton High School in Massachusetts, he attended Mass College of Art prior to graduating from Olivet College in 1969. It was there, while pursuing a degree in Art-Graphics (Printmaking), that he became captivated with Albrecht Dürer, a famous 15th century printmaker and theorist of the German Renaissance. Fred was particularly enthralled with Dürer’s woodcut “The Rhinoceros”. Rhino images were reflected in all aspects of Fred’s life from his business cards, his own artwork, collections and clothing.

Fred was the true embodiment of a Renaissance man. He was accomplished in art, music, public speaking, carpentry, philately, politics, teaching, writing and human relationships. He had a wonderful sense of humor and wit and was passionate about history, travel, and all things British. A keen believer of political and social justice, he once skipped school to join Dr. Martin Luther King’s first Northeast civil rights march in Boston in 1965. His college report card reflected that he got an A in Debate/Argumentation, something which surprised no one who knew him!

After graduation, Fred moved to Detroit, Maine where he got a job in a furniture factory. In his spare time he formed a folk band and taught guitar lessons. One of his students questioned why he was working in a factory with a college degree in art and suggested he might work as a draftsman for her husband who owned an engineering company. Within a year of being hired at Kleinschmidt & Dutting Engineering, he was asked to develop a permitting and licensing group to assist clients in obtaining regulatory approvals from the Federal Energy Commission. This was the beginning of a long career in the hydroelectric energy field including positions as Director of Environmental Services and Corporate Communications for Bangor HydroElectric Co. and Executive Director of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute. His passion for his work and creative out of the box thinking led to many professional accomplishments including providing testimony at an U.S. Senate oversight hearing on the role of hydropower in the nation’s electric supply mix. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Hydropower Association and was President of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust Board of Directors.

To his family and old friends he will be remembered as the kind brilliant hippie who loved music, art, food, dogs, and a good debate.

He leaves behind wife, Elaine, who he married on July 13, 1985, with live televised background music provided by Elton John’s performance at the historical Live Aid Concert. He is also survived by his daughter, Ingrid Ayer-Richardson, her husband, Jeremiah and son, Aidan, his sister, Nancy and her husband, F.R. Vance. Also, stepdaughter, Liza Schiltz and her husband, Fred West. He was predeceased by his parents and many dogs who he loved dearly.

Although Fred lead a full and purposeful life, he was eagerly looking forward to retirement so he could pursue his passion of making art. Sadly, health problems prevented this from happening. That said, Fred touched many lives in a myriad of ways, and he was well-loved and respected by all who were lucky enough to meet him. A celebration of Fred’s life will be held at a later date. To leave a message of condolence, please visit

Those who wish to remember Fred in a special way may make gifts to the Animal Refuge League at their website or by mail to:

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

PO Box 336

Westbrook, ME 04098

Fred Jay Ayer III