Bill Packard

A tribute to Kevin Waters, a man ‘whose heart was bigger than the bay’

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 7:45pm

It was very strange.  Watching the NASCAR race, I had the scanner on in the background and heard the call. Something inside of me said, “This is important” although nothing in the call indicated that.  I listened closely and for no reason at all, felt a sudden sadness come over me. As I continued to listen, I put pieces together and realized that my life had been changed forever.  Despite the heroic efforts of so many, Kevin had died.

There are very few people in our lives that we feel will live forever.  They have a presence and a power that makes us feel they can’t die.  Everyone’s passing is important, but when these larger than life people pass away, it leaves an emptiness in so many hearts. 

Kevin was larger than life.  He joked about being a big guy, but I’m talking about his soul, not his body.  The name of the business is Penobscot Island Air, but everyone knew it as Kevin.

The things he and his crew do for the islands is legendary, but at the same time, Kevin was helping everyone and anyone behind the scenes.

A couple of times I was in a jam in the rental business and needed something in Bangor.  No hesitation.  Get in the plane.  Will not take any money. 

I tried at every opportunity to pay him back, but it was tough to get him to accept anything.  I’m so happy that he got to see the model of his favorite plane.  It was a small gift, but I know he loved it.

After an incident, I was in Kevin’s office when a friend called to offer assistance if needed.  Kevin graciously thanked the caller and ended with, “This ain’t no business for sissys.” 

Kevin was no sissy. Having spent some time in his office, I can tell you that Kevin had a lot on his plate.  Running a business is not easy and running a business life Penobscot Island Air is beyond challenging. 

Kevin took it all in stride, but it was tough. Having been at the airport for a few years, I knew Kevin and had some interaction, but when we opened the rental office he took us under his wing.  He sent us flowers when we opened and a gift at Christmas. 

Every conversation included, “How you doing?  Everything going OK?”

That was Kevin. 

There is a huge void at the airport, in the county, on the islands and in the aviation community.  Kevin is gone. 

We’ll realize it again and again, at the strangest times.  Kevin is not there. It doesn’t seem possible. He was always there. “This ain’t no business for sissys.” 

Kevin created something very special and it’s up to us make sure it keeps going and succeeds and grows. All of us. We need to grieve.  It’s important and needed, but it would be important to Kevin for all us to dig in, ask “How you doing?  Everything OK?” and then offer the kind of help Kevin would offer to anyone and everyone.

If you can help someone, anyone, do it.  In any way you can.  I’m going to call them Kevins. 

There is nothing we can do to bring him back, but there’s a lot we can do to keep his memory alive.  Be kind.  Look for opportunities big and small to help someone and do it.  That would mean a lot to Kevin. This business that we’re all in, this business of life,  “It ain’t no business for sissys.”

Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.