Truc Huynh, an owner of the Phoever Maine restaurant in Westbrook and an active community volunteer in Greater Portland, was remembered this week for his selflessness, motivation and leadership.

Huynh Contributed / Photo by Nate Cutting

Huynh’s life was a prime example of the American dream, friends said.

Huynh, 40, died June 18 after his boat capsized while he was fishing on East Outlet on Moosehead Lake.

He was just 9 years old when his family moved from Vietnam to Maine in 1989 seeking political asylum. He was a 2001 graduate of Portland High School and a 2005 graduate of Bowdoin College.

In his adult life, Huynh volunteered at Portland Schools and spearheaded fundraisers for local causes including the Immigrant Welcome Center. In downtown Westbrook in 2013, he started and operated with his family the popular Phoever Maine Vietnamese Bar & Grill, which has since moved to Rock Row.

His close friend Richard Dorney of Portland, who has known Huynh since they were both 10, said he was someone you could lean on.


“He set me on the path to take things more serious with my personal life, and to be honest, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have met my fiancée I have now,” Dorney said.

Friends say Truc Huynh gave back to his community and urged them to join him. Here, Richard Dorney, left, Hunh, Tom Pelletier and Mike Briere attend a fundraising event for Camp Susan Curtis. Contributed / Brandon Ferrante

Dorney recalled the time when he learned his mother had been involved in a bad car accident. As Dorney rushed off to the hospital, he was already hearing from a concerned Huynh. Huynh quickly showed up at the medical bay to wait with him.

“He was out the door almost as fast as I was as soon as he knew what was going on,” Dorney said. “Not a lot of people would have been out the door so quickly, waiting for the ambulance with me. That’s not a friend you can clone.”

Huynh gave back to groups and organizations that at one time helped “him become the person he became,” he said.

Each year on his birthday, Huynh volunteered at a soup kitchen, lifelong friend Brandon Ferrante said. He also volunteered with Camp Susan Curtis, a Maine camp for economically disadvantaged children.

Ferrante said that Huynh was “electric,” and Dorney said he was a leader.


He could walk into any room, meet any person and instantly connect. It was really a sight to behold,” Dorney said.

Ferrante recalled a trip they took to Las Vegas.

“There was this table of executives, he just sat with them and started talking,” he said.

By the end of a 30-minute conversation, it turned out the Huynh had befriended the owners of the casino resort they were at.

“He could talk to anyone, but he was also the guy to bring you in. If you were sitting alone, he’d introduce you and make you welcome,” Ferrante said.

At his time of death, Huynh was raising money for Maine-based organizations promoting diversity and the outdoors through his benefit Trucking Across America. The funds raised this year will benefit Apex Youth Connection, a Biddeford based nonprofit serving youth.


“I knew him as an unbelievably good person who took life and did everything he could to make other lives better,” said professional associate Ben Waxman, founder and co-owner of American Roots in Westbrook.

Rocco Frenzilli, who coached Huynh in rugby at Portland High School, said Huynh consistently had a good attitude with a desire to excel and a commitment to making things happen.

“He committed himself on a daily basis to make things better for those around him, people who didn’t have as much. He was wonderful,” Frenzilli said.

As difficult as Huynh’s death is for those who knew him, “it’s giving us an opportunity to look back and remember him for what he was, and obviously the impact he had on all of our lives,” Frenzilli said. 

Huynh’s family members did not respond by the American Journal’s deadline.

“Thoughts and prayers with the Huynh and Phoever Maine family on the tragic loss of Truc,” Westbrook Mayor Mike Foley said. “He was a committed community man and I worked with him many times. His energy will be greatly missed and may he rest in peace.”

Lifelong friend Nate Cutting said Huynh will be sorely missed.

“His parents and coaches really instilled in him that you want to try and live life in a way that creates opportunities for others,” Cutting said. “When it came to doing what is right, making an impact, Truc was a guy who was relentless.”

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