When Dick Snow was a senior at Brunswick High School in 1957, he had no intention of going to college, although he ranked 6th out of 150 in his class and had won the Maine State Championship in the 50 yard freestyle in swimming. Mario Tonon, the BHS principal, had other ideas, telling Dick, “You have to go to Bowdoin!”

Dick did go to Bowdoin on a scholarship, although he lived at home for his first two years and worked long hours at an Esso station on Maine Street to help make ends meet. “My father was a truck driver,” recalls Dick, “and we had nothing.” The arduous work/study regime took its toll, though, to the point that Dick even fell asleep during one swim practice.

Bowdoin’s swim coach Bob Miller knew that a change was in order, and offered Dick the chance to sleep in the small room above the Curtis Swimming Pool. Free housing combined with generous friends who shared food with the ever-cost conscious Dick, helped him make it through Bowdoin free of debt.

A government major, Dick had a strong interest in politics, and he became head of the Young Democrats at Bowdoin. In that capacity, he had the honor of meeting John F. Kennedy, who was running for President in 1960. Kennedy even signed Dick’s copy of “Profiles of Courage.” “I got to go to dinner with Senator Kennedy, Senator Ed Muskie and Miss Maine,” recalls Dick. His friends asked him what it was like to talk to Kennedy, and Dick confessed that he had spent most of the time talking with Miss Maine.

After earning his Master’s degree in government from Florida State University and serving in the U.S. Coast Guard OCS program in Newport, Virginia, Dick returned to Maine. He spent 38 years teaching history at Maine high schools (Mechanic Falls, Lewiston, Edward Little and Mt. Ararat) before retiring in 1999. He also coached swimming, even starting the swimming programs at some of the schools.

Ever the dedicated community citizen outside the classroom, Dick served as Swimming Director for the City of Lewiston; ran the Red Cross Aquatic Program at Bowdoin College; and held several top leadership positions for the town of Topsham and for Sagadahoc County.

All these achievements aside, Dick may best be remembered years from now as a tireless chronicler of the history of the area. Put simply, Dick Snow is a bulldog when it comes to determining and recording what occurred way back when. Limited space precludes a full listing of Dick’s yeoman work, but here’s a sample: he wrote “A History of Birch Island Casco Bay Maine,” “A History of the Sagadahoc County Courthouse” and “The Snows of Casco Bay.” He is the author of “The Snow Index” – an index of the Brunswick Telegraph and Brunswick Record newspaper from 1880-1960 (some 1 million entries).

He digitalized Lewiston Journal Articles on Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell from 1907-1968. He researched and recorded all the biographies of those who are buried in most of the Topsham and Brunswick Cemeteries (over 11,000). He has researched the histories of Pleasant Street, Union Street and Federal Street in Brunswick. He even did a study of Bowdoin College Non-Graduates 1803-1850. Again, this is just a partial listing of Dick’s contributions as a chronicler of history, and he’s still at it at age 80, still finding out interesting stuff to record for future generations, all for no financial remuneration.

Dick Snow was most generous with his time, insights and stories when we chatted about his life and work. We could easily have spent the whole afternoon in animated conversation. The man is a lot younger in spirit than “just a little old.” When I asked him why he does what he does, Dick said, “I just do what I love to do, and then giving it away. I want to be immortal.” You will be, Dick, you will be .

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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