Wallace Pinfold

SCARBOROUGH – The art of conversation lost one of its most gifted practitioners this week. Wallace Pinfold, 75, of Brunswick died at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

Wallace could offer something trenchant to say about practically everything from Proust to vampire movies. No idle chatter though. He was a careful communicator. Possessing rare listening skills and a honed sense of propriety, he kept his repartee civil, even when escorting irascible American musicians around the Pacific Rim for the State Department or overly friendly West African engineers around Baton Rouge for USAID.

An accomplished French language interpreter and translator, Wallace also worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, a ranger naturalist in Yosemite, and a gardener in greater Brunswick. Along the way, he authored two books. “Rising To the Occasion” (with Edith Hazard) and “A Closer Shave: Man’s Daily Search for Perfection” were products of his delights, high standards, and the expectation that people should put their best foot forward.

The son of a gregarious local veterinarian and a proper Midwesterner who taught him the foundations of etiquette, Wallace had an appetite for adventure and the great outdoors as well as for domestic pleasures and solitary intellectual pursuits. His postcards from far-flung destinations were distillations both of the places he visited and his astute sense of other-ness. A lover of art and literature, he collected ceramics, paintings, and photographs and he seldom failed to attend openings of the artists he admired, many of whom were close friends, no matter how distant the exhibition.

Coming out later in life, Wallace was fortunate to find what he described as “transformative love” in his marriage to Dick Moll who predeceased him. Their time together brought a lightening of spirit, more travel (including winters in Palm Springs, Calif.), and a succession of well-loved dogs. Together they hosted Bowdoin students in need of a home away from home. Many of those bonds endured.

Never a parent himself, Wallace enjoyed talking to the children of family and friends. He spoke to small children as if he were conversing with an adult, quite to their delight and to the head-spinning surprise of many parents.

Wallace was educated in the Brunswick school system before attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton University, and Northwestern University where a doctorate in anthropology eluded him when the writing of his dissertation failed to inspire him as much as his field work in Burkina Faso.

Wallace Pinfold was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on Oct. 14, 1946, the son of Russel and Jean Pinfold. His sister, Fran Pinfold Phillips, her husband Bill Phillips of Ann Arbor, Mich. and their two sons, Scott and Doug and their families and Wallace’s brother, Jim Pinfold and his wife Alex Carter of South Portland survive him. And so, too, does a model of a life well lived.

A celebration of that life will be held at The First Parish Church in Brunswick on Monday, Nov, 8 at 1 p.m. for his vaccinated and masked friends.

In remembrance of Wallace Pinfold’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick.

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