Clyde L. Pingree ’58, P’82 died on November 5, 2019, in South Paris, Maine.
(The following was published in The Daily Bulldog on November 13, 2019:)
Clyde L. Pingree, 83, of South Paris, died November 5, 2019 from complications of dementia with Lewy bodies. He was born in Farmington on July 11, 1936, the son of Reginald S. and Christie Vining Pingree of Strong.
In a graduating class of eight, Clyde made the most of his opportunities to lead, serving as valedictorian and president of his Strong High School class of 1954, where he was a delegate to Boys State, president of the student council, yearbook editor, and a participant in athletics, band, drama, and public speaking. He remained active in the Strong Alumni Association throughout his life.
Mr. Pingree attended Boston University for one year, then Bowdoin College, where he was a Kling Scholar and graduated in 1959. He taught history and coached baseball at Skowhegan HS for two years before his career in the wood products industry.
Clyde worked at Forster Mfg. Co. in Strong, beginning in the summer of 1954 as a ditch digger. He and another man dug trenches, five feet deep, to lay pipe which brought steam heat from the mill to neighboring homes. Pingree became a production trainee at Forster’s corporate office in Dryden in 1961. He later served as Assistant to the Works Manager, Purchasing Agent, and Assistant Plant Manager. In 1970, he joined Saunders Brothers, a Westbrook wooden dowel firm, where he advanced to VP of Manufacturing.
In 1976 T.R. Hodgkins, Chairman of the Board, announced the election of Mr. Pingree to President of the Forster Manufacturing Company. Clyde’s rise from ditch digger to President, however, was not a “happily ever after” story. The years 1978 to 1983 were beset with tumultuous change in Maine’s industries and Clyde’s life. During these lean years, Mr. Pingree displayed dogged perseverance and a bit of Yankee ingenuity as he managed Maine Dowel Co. in Farmington, then Cousineau Lumber in Strong, then sold life insurance. In January 1983, his home in New Vineyard was lost to an electrical fire. But Pingree was not a quitter. He relocated to Norway, where he was a manager at the dowel factory CB Cummings. His marriage in 1986 to Marie LaBossiere was a stabilizing influence, as was his return to Saunders Brothers, from which he retired in 2004 as CEO.
By that time, Saunders Brothers had acquired several subsidiaries, including National Wood Products and Keiser Homes in Oxford, Forest Industries in Fryberg, and Gilbert Mfg (Ecotevits) in Locke Mills. Mr. Pingree traveled to each of these businesses, as well as to Russia, China, and Lithuania to keep Saunders Brothers competitive and to keep Mainers employed.
Clyde shared his love of the Maine woods with his children and grandchildren, taking them camping, skating, hiking, hunting, and fishing. He also shared his love of travel which took him to Florida, the Rockies, the Redwoods, Acadia, Yellowstone, Glacier, Arches, Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon National Parks, Alaska, Hawaii, Nashville, Aruba (which he tolerated), Venezuela, England, Scotland, Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Russia, and Lithuania, where he established a dowel mill.
Mr. Pingree loved the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, and Celtics, in that order. He had been a pitcher at BU, Bowdoin, and for town teams in Strong, Phillips, and with the Farmington Flyers. In his summer job at BU, he painted the light towers at Fenway Park. Gardening was a special love of his, and he rarely missed a vegetable growing season in 60 years. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Seven Islands Land Trust.
Clyde L. Pingree will be remembered in the business world for his honesty, intellect, and leadership. He will be remembered by all as a man who spoke few words, yet when he spoke it was with dignity and conviction. His friends and family will remember his unassuming, gentle demeanor, his soft heart and generous spirit, and his selfless devotion to work and family. His children never doubted his love and always trusted his advice. We will miss Dad’s dry sense of humor and calming presence, and we carry his inner strength and faith.
He is predeceased by his sisters Judith Luce and Dawn Draper, stepson William Allen, and grandson Adam Nile. He is survived by his wife Marie of South Paris, brother R. Sewall Pingree & his wife Cathy of Kingfield, children Jill, Clyde II, Michael, and Catherine, stepdaughter Holly and her son Luke Allen, stepson Jonathan Allen, grandchildren Jaqui Boivin Clary, her husband Matt, and their boys Graham and Bennie, Jacob Boivin and his son Noah, Hazen, and Clyde III, his wife Simone and their children Ember, Soren, and Nola, and step grandson Razel Gavin.
The family would like to thank the caring staff of the Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice in Auburn.