Rob Gould was a fiercely dedicated friend, coworker and community advocate whose pithy one-liners about middle-aged dating, fending off chocolate cravings and caring for his orange tabby Rufus drew a devoted Facebook following.

Rob Gould, director of global public relations at Wex Inc., a financial technology company based in Portland, died June 4, 2023, at age 56. Photo courtesy of Jean Gould

Gould, who was director of global public relations at Wex Inc., a financial technology company based in Portland, died June 4 of sudden cardiac arrest, his family said. He was 56.

Family, friends and coworkers remembered Gould as a gifted communications professional and gregarious gentleman who was quick-witted, caring, honest and sensitive, sometimes to the point of heartache. News of mass shootings, nasty politics and hatred of immigrants troubled him.

“He was kind and he was very funny,” said his mother, Mary-Louise Gould, of Scarborough. “But because of his sensitivity, his empathy for others, I think he was vulnerable to feeling the pain of others very deeply.”

His family has been shocked by the outpouring of support and condolences from friends and acquaintances dating back to high school.

“We’re overwhelmed by the response from the community that he built around him,” said his sister Jean Gould of Gorham. “He had an enormous network of people who thought so highly of him.”


A Massachusetts native and University of Vermont graduate, Gould forged a 25-year career in marketing and public relations that included stints with the VIA Agency in Portland and several other firms in the U.S. and abroad. Wex CEO Melissa Smith sent the following email to employees last week.

“It is with great sadness that I share that our beloved colleague, Rob Gould, passed away,” she wrote. “I have had the pleasure of working with Rob for the past eight years. He wore his dedication to our company and our community on his sleeve. He embodied the qualities we hold dear, and was a true Wex brand ambassador. He made an impact on everyone he met, both within the Wex walls and beyond.”

Smith noted Gould’s volunteer work as board vice president at The Telling Room, a nonprofit that promotes youth development through writing. His family has asked that memorial donations be made to the nonprofit in lieu of flowers, and Smith has pledged to match each Wex employee’s donation up to $100.

Kristina Powell met Gould when she was hired in 2021 to be executive director of The Telling Room, which benefited from his public relations acumen, critical thinking skills and storytelling ability, she said.

“Rob was such a great thought partner and had the utmost confidence in me from the start,” Powell said. “That confidence in me and in the mission of The Telling Room was unwavering.”



Erin Ovalle met and became friends with Gould 10 years ago, when she was a news anchor at WMTW-TV and he appeared in her Tech Trends segments as a social media expert and blogger.

“He was so good on TV and so personable,” said Ovalle, who now produces and hosts TV shows promoting Maine. “He was a connector who would put the right people together to work for the betterment of Maine.”

Gould also was fiercely loyal and protective, as a professional and as a friend, Ovalle said. And he knew how to have a good time.

“He would show up at every event to celebrate his friends,” she said. “And even though he wasn’t the center of attention at a party, he was the life of the party. If Rob was there, you knew you were going to have a good time.”

Gould also showed up regularly for important community causes, Ovalle said, including a recent fundraiser for Spurwink, a social services agency. His volunteer activities included the Steppingstone Foundation, Portland Museum of Art and The Salvation Army, and he was director of communications for TEDxDirigo, a speakers’ forum featuring Maine’s brightest innovators and changemakers.

Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, also has been friends with Gould for a decade.


“He cared so much about Portland and the state of Maine,” Hentzel said. “He had a big personality, a big heart and a big sense of humor. He was a special human being and Maine has lost a really good friend and a really big cheerleader.”

Gould was a fashion-minded dresser who enjoyed art, travel, books, movies, dining out and spending time with his nieces and nephew, who appreciated his wisdom and regarded him as the “cool uncle,” his sister said.

Gould was proud of his family, including his father, Donald Gould of North Hampton, New Hampshire. On Facebook for Veteran’s Day and Father’s Day, he usually posted a handsome photo of his dad in a leather flight jacket from his days as a Navy pilot. He dedicated it “to the man who played an integral part in making me who I am today.”


Gould was active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, sharing news and often humorous, relatable insight into his life and wider community. Friends and followers looked forward to his self-deprecating, subtly sarcastic take on living single as a gay man in his 50s. Here are some of his latest quips:

“Occasionally, I feel envious when I see people with their kids, then I do whatever I want.”


“Lying in bed surrounded by cat toys and chocolate wrappers might be my version of ‘dress for the job you want.’ ”

“Missed Connection: I was licking ranch dressing off my sweater. You were the super hot guy staring at me in disbelief.”

“I finally just signed up for a new gym. My bank immediately sent me a fraud alert. You can shut up.”

And his last Facebook one-liner, posted May 27:

“I think Apple should make an iPhone alarm called ‘cat barfing’ because that sound got me out of bed really fast this morning.”

Gould always enjoyed making people laugh, his sister said.


“He was always funny,” she said. “It just came out more and more on social media. But he never wanted to hurt people’s feelings. That’s why he was so self-deprecating.”

Many people have asked Gould’s family what will become of Rufus, his beloved cat for more than a decade.

“I have found a good home for Rufus,” his sister said.

His family plans to hold a celebration of life early this summer.

Comments are not available on this story.