George H. Ayers

GORHAM – George H. Ayers, 96, of Gorham, passed away peacefully with his family near on May 10, 2024.

He was born in Camden on Dec. 22, 1927, the son of George H. and Eva Ruth Miller Ayers. He attended Camden schools and graduated from Camden High School in 1945. While in school, and continuing after graduating, he helped his father during the summers with transporting, cleaning, and selling fish for the family business, Ayers Fish Market on Main Street in Camden.

After attending his first year of college, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in post World War II Italy and California from October 1946 through March 1948. He attended the University of Maine in Orono, where he and his beloved wife Ruth met in Biology class as lab partners. He graduated from the University of Maine with honors in 1951.

Ayers earned a master’s degree from Ohio State University on a National Science Foundation Grant. Over the course of his career, he also studied and performed research at other institutions, including Georgia Tech, Georgetown University, Boston University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Columbia University.

He worked in education in Maine throughout his career, including as head of the science department at Westbrook High School, principal of Dennysville High School, submaster at Besse High School in Albion, and principal of Unity High School. He started teaching physics at Gorham State Teachers College (which later became the University of Southern Maine) in 1959, and established a very popular astronomy program, inspiring many students with the wonder of the universe until he retired Professor Emeritus in1991.

He was the director of the Southworth Planetarium for many years, and from 1975-1991 wrote the monthly astronomy column “What’s Up” which was published in several Maine newspapers. After Bernie Reim took over the column in 1991, George continued to prepare Portland Press Herald’s sky charts for 30 more years, ending in 2021 at the age of 93.

He often took his students up onto the roof of Bailey Hall in Gorham where he had telescopes set up to view the planets, moons, stars, and galaxies. Over the years, many students sent letters to him thanking him for being their professor and for instilling in them an interest in astronomy. Years after he retired, former students would run into his children and say how much they enjoyed his classes.

The Humble Farmer, Robert Skoglund, wrote once in his column that runs in the Portland Press Herald that he asked fellow students at their 50th reunion at Gorham Normal School who their favorite teacher was, and George Ayers was mentioned among others. Then he asked “Who changed your life?” A student answered, “Mr. Ayers. He would have us out in a field with a telescope at 2 a.m. watching Saturn appear over the horizon. I took every course I could from him. My whole teaching career was based on what I learned from Mr. Ayers.”

George married Ruth Ann Bridges on June 22, 1952. He cherished Ruth during their 71 years of marriage, and was a beloved father and father-in-law, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a fountain of knowledge and enjoyed instilling the love of learning in all of his family. He appreciated the beauty of nature and especially enjoyed time spent at the family cabin in Newfield where he was known for skipping rocks by the brook, and trips to Camden and Owls Head. He loved to be outside and could often be seen walking along the main streets of Gorham from his residence in town. A family friend who saw him taking one of his daily walks downtown a few months ago at the age of 96 told his daughter Pam that when she saw him, she thought to herself, “If Mr. Ayers is out for a walk, then all is right in the world.”

George was a teacher for life, instilling the joy of learning, curiosity, and the wonder of our world, in each of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as many other dear relatives and friends. He often set up his telescope in his backyard for his grandchildren to observe astronomical events, whether it was clear nights to see planets, comet sightings, or other celestial phenomena. He observed the most recent solar eclipse with family, including a grandson and three great-grandchildren from his home in Gorham, which he could have told you was in the path at 96.6% totality. On the night of his passing, a rare, spectacular display of the aurora borealis illuminated the heavens above his loved ones.

George was a member of the former School Street United Methodist Church and the Cressey Road United Methodist Church in Gorham. He was a lifetime member of the Newfield Historical Society.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, of Gorham; daughter, Pamela Damon and husband Duane of Gorham, son, Mark Ayers and wife Cindy of Scarborough, son, John Ayers and wife Kim of Ashford, Conn.; grandchildren Alan Damon, Kelly Caiazzo, Elizabeth Damon Mathis, Geoff Ayers, Ryan Ayers, Julianne Ayers, Jacob Ayers, Sarah Ayers and Rachel Ayers; and great-grandchildren Will Caiazzo, Andrew Caiazzo, Eleanor Damon, Fiona Damon, George Damon, Dashiell Mathis, and Hawthorne Mathis.

There will be a graveside service at the family cemetery in Camden at a time to be determined.

To express condolences or to participate in George’s online tribute, please visit

George was especially concerned with individuals experiencing food insecurity, so donations can be made in George’s memory to the Gorham Food Pantry.

For online donations:

Checks may be mailed to:

Gorham Food Pantry

P.O. Box 547

Gorham, ME 04038

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