Jon Philip Bagley

GRAY – Jon Philip Bagley “Doc”, 69, died peacefully at his home on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, surrounded by his loving wife and two step-daughters.

He retired from the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on Sept. 1, 2023, after 46 years of service. He holds the honor of being the longest serving employee of any division in the IF&W.

He was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, on July 24, 1954, the second son of Darrell R. and Phyllis M. (McIntee) Bagley. His arrival here on earth was nothing short of miraculous as his parents had hoped for years for a second child. His older brother, Gary, was killed in a tragic car accident at the age of 18 in Dover-Foxcroft in March of 1953 during his senior year of high school. In December of 1953, Phyllis and Darrell were able to give the best Christmas present ever to his bereft grandparents when they told them the news of their pregnancy. Although living in Portland at the time, Phyllis went home to St. Stephen, New Brunswick to deliver Jon because the hospital there offered the best services for high risk pregnancies in 1954. Jon was born healthy and happily grew up in the Portland Riverside neighborhood of Commonwealth Drive. He always treasured his friends from the days of his youth, and many continued to visit him at his home in Gray while he was bedridden during the past six months.

Jon graduated in 1972 from Deering High School. In June of 1977, he began work at the Gray Animal Farm raising pheasants for game birds. His position of Gamekeeper continued for over four decades allowing him to be a part of the facility’s growth and change as it became the Maine Wildlife Park, one of the State’s most highly visited educational and tourist venues. He received the nickname of “Doc Bagley” in his early years there when, according to his longtime coworker and friend, John Bentley, Jr., it became confusing for the Game Farm Superintendent, David Wilbur, to call for John/Jon over the walkie-talkies. The wildlife refuge was still in its infancy, and it was noticed that Jon possessed a peculiar innate ability to know how to feed, tend, and rehabilitate each species of injured bird or animal that was brought in for care. Hence, it was deemed that he should answer to the radio call for “Doc” to avoid confusion among the two Jon/Johns. The nickname stuck and he was forever called “Doc Bagley”.

His long career gave him much satisfaction. He loved working every day outdoors. He was happy plowing snow in a blizzard or turning the sprinklers on for the moose to cool off in the heat of the summers. Like his father, he could do anything, build anything, fix anything. He was a talented carpenter, woodworker, and painter. On any given day he could be found fixing a broken hydraulic line on a backhoe, repairing a leaking toilet in the restrooms, or sharpening the blades/changing the oil on the many lawnmowers the Park groundskeepers used. He could drive any piece of heavy equipment they gave him. The daily preparation of food and medication administrations for all of the Park’s injured or orphaned animals was a routine ingrained in his soul. He loved knowing the special foods that each animal enjoyed. On many warm summer evenings after the Park had closed to visitors, he and his wife, Dotty, could be found walking over to the bear compound to give the bears an ice cream cone or a Klondike Bar. One of his favorite events in years past was the Halloween Haunted Hayride. He would put on his old “farmer’s straw hat” and drive the tractor pulling a trailer filled with excited visitors sitting on hay bales around the “haunted” back field of the Park through spooky exhibits. Though not officially licensed, he assisted with many plumbing and electrical issues at the Park. In 2004, he raised triplet bobcat kittens from the hour of their birth, bottle feeding them with baby bottles meant for dolls. Two of those cats remain on exhibit at the Park today. During the late spring and early summer months he would crawl out of bed to do the 10 p.m. or 2 a.m. bottle feedings of the orphaned fawns and moose calves. A very quiet, shy man, he had a great sense of humor that was often overlooked by many. He was always happier to be behind the scenes cutting browse for the moose, grading the access roads, or in the Ted Morse Rehabilitation Center carrying on a “conversation” with Lawrence, the Bald eagle. It was well known that if a television or newspaper reporter was coming to do a special piece on the Park, Jon would disappear into thin air!

Jon was well versed in the care of every critter and bird who lived at the Wildlife Park, but he had a particular love for the bears. He would note every detail of their lives and always paid great attention to their diet and environment. It was always said that when Jon was on duty, the bear swimming pool at the Park was more carefully attended to than many private pools at residential homes in the neighborhood!

Jon had many passions. He was a voracious reader and always had a good book at hand. He loved gardening and his vegetables and raspberries were sought after by family and neighbors. He loved dogs, particularly the yellow labs in his life. He told everyone that he tolerated the kitties that Dotty loved, but was caught numerous times with them in his lap when he thought no one was looking. His most intense interest always remained old cars. He was an expert in the art of the restoration process of classic cars, and was recognized nationally through the monthly column he wrote for many years in the PickUps and Panels Magazine as their ’68-’72 GMC truck tech. He enjoyed attending car shows and visiting car museums throughout New England. His pride and joy was a 1969 GMC pickup truck that he totally restored from the ground up.

Jon was most at peace while in nature and the outdoors. The happiest days of his life were when he was up to camp on Wabassus Lake. He would spend hours out in his boat fishing or simply puttering around the camp doing projects. He loved working in the woods and cut two to three cords of firewood every season. He loved to travel with Dotty to New Brunswick to visit his family in St. Stephen, Oak Bay and Moore’s Mills. St. Andrews By the Sea and Campobello Island were favorite places to visit and walk.

But most of all, Jon loved his family. He would do anything for his wife, his stepdaughters and his grandchildren. In July of 2022, when Jon became ill with Kappa Restrictive B Cell Lymphoma of the cerebrospinal fluid (an extremely rare cancer for which there were limited treatment options), he bravely chose to forego those questionable options and to simply enjoy the time he had left with his family. He reconnected with old friends and with cousins and spent countless hours with his wife as they built a new home. On Aug. 25, he attended the official State of Maine dedication of the Jon P. Bagley Bear Exhibit at the Maine Wildlife Park with Dotty via zoom from his hospital bed in the Oncology ICU at Maine Medical Center. On Sept. 2, he moved out of the residential gamekeeper house at the Wildlife Park that had been his home for almost a half century, and into his brand new home.

Jon was predeceased by his parents; brother; grandparents; best friend, Allen Messer; and his yellow lab, Boof.

He leaves his loving wife, Dorothy (Field) Bagley; his stepdaughters, Lindsay R. Strattard (Brian Rancourt) and Dr. Samantha R. Hodgkins (Dan). Bampie Jon also leaves behind his six grandchildren, Alexander James Strattard, Callista Rose Strattard, Brice Sullivan Strattard, Aylana Marie Strattard, William Victor Hodgkins, and Noah James Hodgkins. He also leaves all of his McIntee cousins, loving each and every one of them. And he leaves behind his beloved rescue kitty, Chloie Bella, who knew he really liked cats even though he told everyone that he didn’t!

The family would like to thank Dr. Daniel Pierce, Jon’s PCP, who oversaw a team of 13 providers seeking to identify and treat his rare cancer. They would also like to thank Drs. Grazyna Pomorska, Michael Vytopil and Ajay Wakhloo at the Lahey Clinic, Dr. Ugonma Chukwueke at Dana Farber, Drs. Christine Lu-Emerson, Mathew Sanborn, and Paul Muscat of Maine Medical Partners, and Dr. Matthew Duggan of New England Cancer Specialists. A very special thank you to Leo Credit, Jon’s physical therapist at Gray Physical Therapy and to Michelle, Jon’s daily aide from Androscoggin Hospice. And a most sincere thank you to Ted Wandishin, Glen Gervais, and all of the crews from Custom Built Homes of Maine who worked non-stop from May until September to build the new handicapped accessible home that allowed Jon to remain with his family until his passing.

Visiting hours will be Saturday, April 6, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Wilson Funeral Home, 24 Shaker Rd., Gray. The funeral service will be held there on Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m. with E. Michael Mills as officiant. Honorary Pallbearers will be Howie Powell, John Dumais, Mike Andrews, Kyle Costigan, Jeff Smith, Todd Richardson, and Eligh Norwood. A late spring/early summer committal service will be held at the Bagley lot in the Calais Cemetery, in Calais.

In lieu of flowers, Jon requested that donations be made to the

Friends of the

Maine Wildlife Park,

56 Game Farm Rd.,

Gray, ME 04039.

All donations will be used for direct care options to the animals (special food or medicine needs, veterinary care, improving or building new exhibit habitats, etc).

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