Colin T. Wormwood Sr., owner of the former landmark Wormwood’s Restaurant in Saco’s Camp Ellis, died Wednesday after a period of declining health. He was 77.

He was remembered Thursday as a man who gave generously to the community.

A longtime resident of Camp Ellis, Wormwood spent his early years in Schenectady, New York, and attended schools there. He returned every summer to Camp Ellis, where his family operated a small pub and cafe beginning in 1944. At age 18, he was managing the bar. By his early 20s, Wormwood was running the restaurant for his mother.

His wife, Cindy Wormwood, of Saco said Thursday he did every job at the restaurant ranging from a dish washer to cook. She said he usually went to work around 3 a.m. to prep food for the day ahead. He picked the lobster meat by hand, cooked, and created the menu.

“He could do anything in the restaurant,” said his wife. “He was very creative. He had a great imagination about things he could do.”

Wormwood ran the restaurant for more than 50 years. Wormwood’s, which started as a small watering hole for local fishermen, grew into a 250-seat family destination known for its great food and atmosphere. Over the years, he expanded the restaurant several times, including the addition of a second floor. The Wormwoods held wedding and funeral receptions, Christmas parties and private gatherings.

The restaurant was a magnet for tourists. His wife said players from the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox often frequented Wormwood’s. The late President George H.W. Bush also dined there.

“He drove his Secret Service people nuts because he wanted to sit in the middle of the room,” said his wife, noting the agents often had trouble finding seats near him. “The president would walk around and shake peoples hands and sign autographs.”

His wife noted a wall at the restaurant proudly displayed some autographed pictures of celebrity guests. She recalled the night that several taxicabs pulled up to the restaurant just before closing.

“About 30 people came in the door,” she said. “We already cut the staff and we were getting ready to clean up, but we let them in. You always let them in. Once we locked the doors, they told us who they were. They were the Moody Blues. They were nice as anything to wait on.”

Over the years, Wormwood hired many young people in the Camp Ellis neighborhood. His wife said he was a great mentor and counseled many of them. She recalled one young man, who struggled with substance use. She said her husband intervened and got him some help. He went on to join the Coast Guard and became an officer.

“He would find ways to counsel kids and help them get back on their feet,” his wife said. “He was great. He really was.”

Wormwood and his wife lived across the street from the restaurant. On Christmas Eve, they would have celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. It was the second marriage for both. She said they met when they were 16 years old.

“My father had a hit list of all the boys in the area he didn’t want me dating. Colin was on the top of the list,” she said, laughing.

She said they went their separate ways and reconnected later in their lives. She waitressed at the restaurant and so did all of her kids.

“My kids loved him,” she said. “We had a wonderful life together. We marched to the beat of the same drum.”

In addition to her children, he leaves a son, Colin Wormwood Jr. of Saco.

Wormwood had a passion for golf. He was the first member to join Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach when it opened in 1998. He was a fixture at the golf course, where he played and sponsored many golf tournaments over the years.

“Everyone loved him at the golf course,” his wife said.

Wormwood sold the restaurant in 2013 and it has since been torn down. His wife said he suffered a stroke four years ago and had health issues since then.

“It’s very, very sad,” she said. “He was one of a kind.”


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