CAMDEN — Willard Thorndike Wight, 91, husband of Janet Bean Wight, died on Sunday, October 6, 2019 at the Sussman House in Rockport, surrounded by his family.
Born in Manchester, New Hampshire on September 5, 1928, he was the son of Willard and Nerita (Willey) Wight.
Willard attended Camden High School, the Holderness School, Tabor Academy and University of Maine – where he studied boat design – partly inspired by his family friendship with Master Boat Builder, Malcolm Brewer. Willard also attended Babson Institute and was drafted into the army in 1950.
Learning the value of hard work as a child, Willard worked alongside his grandfather, Pearl Glover (P.G.) Willey at the family business, P.G. Willey & Company on Bay View St., in Camden. After P.G. Willey's death in 1951, Willard returned home to assist his mother, Nerita, and his grandmother, Caroline Thorndike Willey, in running the family business.
On December 25, 1955, he married Janet Louise Bean in South Warren, Maine.
In 1961, P.G. Willey & Company was purchased by Willard and Janet. In 2007, Willard and Janet sold the business to son John Wight and son-in-law Howard Holmes, continuing over 100 years of a local, family run business.
Willard embarked on a lifetime of community service, joining the Camden Rotary Club at the age of 20, eventually serving as President of Camden Rotary, receiving 2 Paul Harris Fellowship awards. He helped form and was the First Commodore of the Penobscot Bay Yachting Rotarians.
In 1959-62, Wight served as Camden Harbormaster, and was an inaugural member of the Harbor Committee for the next 40 years. Willard realized the importance of the harbor to the local economy and future of the Town of Camden.
When a community boat launch was needed in Camden, Willard organized a group of business people, forming the Camden Launching & Chowder Society. The committee held fish chowder suppers at the Camden Snow Bowl to raise the necessary funds for the boat launch.
In 1976, Willard and Janet became the first volunteer caretakers of Curtis Island.
Wight’s other civic duties included serving on the board of the Camden Community Hospital (where he was active in the merger with Penobscot Bay Medical Center), a YMCA director, the Camden Outing Club, Parks and Recreation Commission, the Camden Yacht Club – serving as director of the board, the Camden Comprehensive Plan Committee in the 1970s, a former member of the Megunticook Golf Club, President of the Boy Scouts, 70 year member of Amity Masonic Lodge, Camden Men’s Chorus (under the direction of Robert E. Laite, Sr.).
Willard was also convention chair for Maine Oil Dealers Association (twice), President of Knox Oil Dealers Association, and founded Penobscot Marine Services Association and Knox Marine Exchange on Bayview Street – where along with Duane Doolittle and Gilbert Leadbetter – the trio located, secured and restored three Knox Machine Company marine engines.
Willard was part of the driving force in opening the road to the summit of Mt. Battie to the public in 1965. He worked with A.Murray Austin, Kendrick Libby, Bill Hardy, Norman Manwell, and the Maine Legislature for ten years, until the road was opened so that thousands of people may continue to enjoy the panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and Camden Harbor.
Willard had a lifelong affinity with the ocean, and took every opportunity to share this passion with his wife and children. He was always ready to take extended family, friends and acquaintances out in one of his many and whimsically named vessels. Willard had a fleet of bullseye sloops named after beloved family members, which were available for charter at his marina in Camden, Willey Wharf, where he made many lifelong friends from all walks of life.
Surviving him is his wife of 64 years, Janet Bean Wight; children, Nancy Wight-Bakker, Susan Wight, Paige Garland Parker and husband Philip, Mary Wight Holmes and husband, Howard, John Wight and his partner, Holly Hendrick; grandchildren, Tyler Holmes and wife, Alicia, Jacob Holmes and wife, Olivia, Alexandra (Holmes) Feener and husband, Owen, W.M. Parker A. Taylor, William Bakker and his partner, Ajha, Madeline Wight, Lincoln Wight, Mabel Wight; four great-grandchildren; Isla Feener, Ivan Feener, Avie Feener and Liam Bakker; half-brother, Stephen Wight; brother-in-law, Merrick Bean, sister-in-law, Joan Bean Snow and husband Roland; and numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends – all of whom he insisted on, and who lovingly do, refer to him as “Uncle Will.”
Memorial gifts may be made to the Camden Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 602, Camden, ME 04843, or to the Camden Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program, P.O. Box 204, Camden, ME 04843.
Private family interment will be held in the Mountain View Cemetery in Camden.
A celebration of Willard’s life will be held Saturday, October 19, from 2 - 4 p.m., at The Rhumb Line, 1 Wayfarer Drive, Camden.
Condolences and memories may be shared with Willard’s family at www.longfuneralhomecamden.com.
Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain Street, Camden.