Francis R. Bliss ’40 died on March 16, 2016, in Farmington, Maine.
(The following was published in The Irregular, March 23, 2016:)
Francis Royster Bliss, 96, died on March 16, 2016 at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, almost four years after the death of his wife, Frances. He was the son of the Reverend Francis William Bliss and Marian (Miller) Bliss.
Over a long lifetime of devotion to teaching, the arts, outdoor recreation, gardening and travel, Francis was blessed with a host of admirers and friends. He was an amusing and often quirky teacher, frequently bringing his students home for dinner or escorting them to a concert or play. Beginning when Francis was only 10 years old, as a chorister at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, he was an enthusiastic singer of traditional and choral music. He pursued an active interest in music his entire life. In Maine, after his retirement, he joined the shape note singing community and enjoyed singing on the tenor bench for 30 years. He taught Classics —Latin and Greek, language and culture, first at Colby College in Waterville; then at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio; and finally at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. He was involved with the Maine Classical Association, and supported and encouraged high school level Classics teaching.
While in Vermont, he and Frances joined an outing club and hiked mountains, sometimes bringing their loyal dog, Hector. In Maine, they climbed many peaks and introduced quite a few young people to the pleasures of trekking. Francis went on countless rain- soaked adventures and never lost his zest for these great times. A beloved hiking companion and family friend was Glen Brackley of Strong.
The Blisses made numerous trips to Europe to witness and study ancient, medieval and Renaissance cultural artifacts. On their trips, it was not unusual for them to camp with a tent; and they always ate inexpensively. Francis was an early supporter of the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association. He took great pleasure in growing food for the family. But he also maintained a wider focus. Throughout his life he was opposed to violence and race hatred. He contributed regularly to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was public-spirited and joined several friends in building New Vineyard’s first Public Library.
He is survived by his son, David; his daughters, Deborah and Margaret; his grandchildren, Laura (Bliss) Curtis and husband, Adam, and Thomas Bliss.