James “Jim” Edward Patterson

ELLSWORTH – The Honorable James “Jim” Edward Patterson passed away with family by his side at Massachusetts General Hospital on Jan. 16, 2021, having lived 11 years after his pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis and 6 ½ wonderful bonus years after receiving a bilateral lung transplant.

He was born May 15, 1948 in Bangor to Barbara (Foley) and Curtis “Pat” Patterson. Pat’s Air Force career brought the family from Bangor, to Portland, to St. John’s Newfoundland, and finally to Brunswick where Jim graduated from Brunswick High School in 1966. Jim spent his childhood summers at Beech Hill Pond in Otis developing lifelong friendships and what would be a lifelong passion for boating, fishing, and the Maine woods.

Jim attended Middlebury College during which time he enjoyed a brief stint in the U.S. Navy which was cut short after a broken leg from a ski accident. As a result, his life trajectory changed from pursuing a career flying planes to a career in law.

Upon graduating in 1970 Jim attended Washington and Lee Law School, but most importantly, before leaving Middlebury, Jim met the love of his life and devoted partner for over 50 years, Nancy. Jim and Nancy were married in 1971. After Jim graduated from law school in 1973, they settled in Ellsworth where Jim practiced law for over 40 years. He truly loved his colleagues, clients, and the work he did.

Jim worked as an assistant district attorney in Hancock County before being elected Judge of Probate for Hancock County, a position he would hold for 36 years bringing him the most joy of his career. He was especially fortunate to have Lisa Carter as his paralegal for many years and Bonnie Cousins as Register of Probate, two devoted helpmates who went way beyond their expected duties. Jim was blessed to have Diane O’Connell as a congenial and most competent associate and partner. For the past few decades Jim could be found having lunch almost every day at the “lawyers’ table” at the Riverside Café.

Jim’s first love was his family: his wife, children, granddaughters, mother, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins followed very closely behind by his passion for fly fishing for brook trout in Maine’s many waters. He took annual trips to fishing camps for over 40 years. He loved the woods and the camaraderie of camp. Jim and Nancy raised two children in Ellsworth and summered at their Green Lake camp, enjoying very special friends there. Jim loved working in the woods on their property, cutting firewood (but never an oak tree!), spreading more acorns than a busy squirrel, building trails, mowing fields with his tractor and constructing rock walls.

He was an avid hiker, climbing all the peaks in Acadia National Park two years after his lung transplant. Jim enjoyed hunting for birds and deer, though he rarely ever pulled the trigger. Jim was a great skier on both snow and water. He always had a special glimmer in his eye when he was aboard any type of boat. He enjoyed traveling the world, wood working, cycling, sailing, canoeing and kayaking. He always took the scenic route.

Jim was a member and supporter of numerous groups and organizations, including Lions Club, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, and many more. He was a dedicated philanthropist.

More than anything, Jim supported Nancy in her many endeavors, activities and passions – always her biggest fan. He was known for his entertaining story-telling, dry sense of humor, kindness, generosity, and integrity.

Jim is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter, Amy of Avondale Estates, Ga. and her husband Fodié Maguiraga, son, Jed and daughter-in-law Hillary; granddaughters, Caroline and Nell of Greenville, Del.; sister, Ann of Otis; cherished cousins (and spouses not listed), James Foley, Diana Rose, Jane Reardon Dineen, David Foley, Martha Wales, Mark Foley, Mary-Jo Foley, Adam Foley, Louisa Attenborough, Jessica Dineen, JK Dineen, Jonathan Foley, and Melissa Foley; aunt, Bea Tibbetts; loving in-laws, the families of Harry and Mary Jane Thomas and Kirk and Nancy Mackey; Dwyer step-siblings, Kirk, Blair, Thad, Hugh, Dane, and Wendy Roy; long-time friend and fishing companion since college, Harry Zinn; and too many dear friends to list but all who enriched his life immeasurably.

Jim believed that Gifford’s World’s Best Chocolate Ice Cream was a cure for any ailment. A celebration of Jim’s life will be held in the summer, with ice cream, or whenever people can safely gather. The family thanks Maine Coast Hospital, Eastern Maine Medical Center, and especially Massachusetts General Hospital for their truly miraculous care since his diagnosis with pulmonary fibrosis.

Remembrances may be left at J.S. Waterman – Langone Chapel in Boston at watermanboston.com.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Jim’s memory to Frenchman Bay Conservancy (frenchmanbay.org) to further his love of land and water through a legacy of land preservation and stewardship.

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