CAMDEN — Dr. Jack Schoonmaker Blaisdell died March 4, 2017, at the age of 102. Up until the week of his death, he was exercising three times a day on his rowing machine, emailing his friends and family, enjoying his hobbies, reading, and entertaining and enjoying his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with his sharp mind and quick wit.
Jack loved history and was very proud of his Maine heritage. He told his family the story of Angel Gabriel, the 240-ton galleon ship that sailed the Blaisdell family across the Atlantic and landed at Pemaquid Point in the year 1635. The Angel Gabriel was lost in a fierce hurricane off Pemaquid Point the day after the Blaisdell immigrants arrived on shore.
He was particularly impressed by his great-great-uncle, Ebenezer Blaisdell, a retired sea captain who planted the first apple orchard in the state of Maine. The Blaisdell Homestead in Winterport was built in 1789, where the family created the Blaisdell Orchard (which at one time was the largest apple farm in the state).
Jack was born in Bradford, Pa., on Aug. 26,1914. His parents were Susie Rae Schoonmaker Blaisdell and Walter Grant Blaisdell. He graduated from Phillips Andover Academy, Yale University and Yale Medical School, and went on to complete his residency at the Mayo Clinic to become an orthopedic surgeon. In 1937 Jack married his hometown sweetheart. Famie Jane Moffatt, and they went on to have three children, Christopher, Jan and Nicolas. Jack joined the U.S. Army in 1944. He entered the Army as a first lieutenant and completed his service as a major in 1947. During the war he was chief of surgery and physical therapy at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, Colo. He was later transferred to McCormack General Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., as chief of orthopedic surgery.
When the war ended Jack opened a private practice in Santa Ana, Orange County, Calif. He was the first orthopedic surgeon in Orange County. He practiced in several hospitals: Orange County Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Santa Ana Community Hospital, Doctors Hospital and Fairview State Hospital. Jack also traveled to London to observe and be mentored by Dr. Charnley, the pioneer in joint replacement. In 1975, the Blaisdells moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, where Jack was chief of staff and chief of surgery at Bonner General Hospital. Once again, Jack was the first orthopedic surgeon in Bonner County. In 1999, after the death of his wife, Famie, to whom he had been married for 62 years, Jack moved to Durango, Colo., to be close to his son, Nicholas Blaisdell and his family. Jack was a reluctant retiree, but fortunately had acquired many hobbies, including woodworking, weaving, knitting and needlepoint...all using his skilled hands and fingers that had performed surgery on so many throughout his long and successful career as a surgeon.
In 2014 Jack moved to Camden to be close to his daughter, Jan Taft, and his granddaughter, Jennifer Porter and her family, John Dietter, Oliver and Zeke. His three years at Camden Hills Villa were filled with love and kindness from the staff. During frequent outings with his family, Jack loved to eat a crab roll while watching the activity in Rockport Harbor. He received excellent care from his respected physician, Dr. Ira Mandel, over the last few years.
Jack was predeceased by his wife, Famie Jane Moffatt Blaisdell; and his son, Christopher Blaisdell. Jack was a loving, kind and thoughtful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is dearly missed by his two children; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren, who live in Maine, Colorado, California, Washington, Virginia and Vietnam.