Lewis P. Cabot

SCARBOROUGH – Lewis P. Cabot, collector, businessman and manufacturing executive, died on Friday, September 13th in Scarborough, Maine. He was 82. The cause of death was complications from diabetes. He was a resident of Bonita Springs, Fla. and a former resident of Harpswell, Maine and Boston, Mass.

Mr. Cabot was passionate about art and sculpture and an avid collector. He was an important supporter of artists, with a particular interest in Color Field Painting and modernist constructed sculpture. He was a founding trustee of Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, where he introduced founder Ralph Ogden to the work of sculptor David Smith and encouraged Ogden to acquire seven prominent Smith sculptures for the collection, and a proponent of contemporary art in Boston during the 1960s. He was a trustee of several art museums, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts from 1966 to 1990. He advocated for the creation of a department of contemporary art at the MFA, which was a controversial position in Boston at the time. His circle included critics and curators such as Clement Greenberg, Kenworth Moffett, Michael Fried, Charles Millard, Karen Wilkin, and André Emmerich. He enjoyed lifelong friendships with many artists and fellow collectors, including Sir Anthony Caro, Tim Scott, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Helen Frankenthaler, Darryl Hughto, Susan Roth, Ruud Kuijer, James Wolfe, J. Welles Henderson, and David Mirvish.

Mr. Cabot was born in The Hague, The Netherlands on Sept. 6, 1937, where his father, a diplomat, was stationed at the American Embassy. He grew up in Washington, D.C., Manchester, Mass. and wherever his parents happened to be posted, including Finland, Sweden, Colombia, Brazil and Poland. He was educated at the Groton School (Class of 1956), Harvard College (Class of 1961) and Harvard Business School (Class of 1964). He had fond recollections of a post-graduate year spent at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, Colo., where he fell in love with skiing.

Mr. Cabot purchased the Southworth Machine Company of Portland, Maine, in 1977. Over the course of the next three decades he transformed a New England producer of papermill systems into an international leader in the material handling industry. He served as Chairman of the Board of Southworth International Group from 1977 to 2011. In addition, he served as a director of the Material Handling Institute Roundtable from 1988 to 2007. In 2017 he was awarded the Norman L. Cahners Industry Award for lifetime contributions to the material handling industry. He brought an art connoisseur’s eye to manufacturing, insisting that his products be finished in a myriad of bright colors and decorating his offices with collages and sculptures created out of discarded machine shop molds. Customers would occasionally call to express curiosity when they received industrial equipment painted in bright shades of yellow, pink, and purple.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Cabot had been active in the investment business in Boston, completing a traineeship at F.S. Moseley & Co., and then working at John P. Chase, Inc., and Gardner & Preston Moss. He was a trustee of the Northeast Pooled Common Fund of Princeton, N.J. from 1972 to 1994.

Outside of business, Mr. Cabot served as a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Museum of American Folk Art (New York), the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, the Maine College of Art, the Society of Arts and Crafts of Boston, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, the Maine Maritime Museum and the Maine State Music Theater. He was a member of the visiting committee of the Harvard University Art Museum from 1982 to 1988.

In addition to art, Mr. Cabot greatly enjoyed architecture and participated in the design and construction of several innovative houses during the course of his life. Later in his life he created a state of the art sculpture workshop at his home in Harpswell, where he invited both established and aspiring artists to stay and work. He was also a dedicated collector of art books and catalogues, walking sticks, ship models and other maritime objects and historic postcards of Maine. He traveled extensively, both across the United States and internationally, and lived outside of London for a period of time in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was fond of jazz, gin and tonics, chocolate, humorous stories and good-natured practical jokes.

Mr. Cabot was an avid sailor. He owned several yachts, including a Nauticat 50 named ELEDTIJA and an East Bay 42 named SUNFEAST after a favorite Caro sculpture. He cruised often, both along the New England coastline and in Florida and the Caribbean. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club and a former member of the Portland (Maine) Yacht Club and Manchester (Massachusetts) Yacht Club. In addition, he was a member of the Somerset Club of Boston and the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Cabot was a grandson of Godfrey Lowell Cabot, chemist and founder of the Cabot Corporation and a son of John Moors Cabot, career diplomat, ambassador to five countries and Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs in the Eisenhower Administration. His mother was the former Elizabeth Lewis.

He is survived by his wife Susan Knight Cabot, whom he married July 15, 1978 in Manchester, Mass.; his daughter Elizabeth L. Cabot, and by his sons Edward O. Cabot, Timothy P. Cabot, James E. Cabot and Alexander L. Cabot; nine grandchildren; and his brother John G.L. Cabot and sister Elizabeth Cabot Lyman. He is survived as well by his first wife Judith Ogden Thomson. He was predeceased by his sister Marjorie Cabot.