Gary M. Boone ’51

Gary M. Boone ’51  died on August 1, 2023, in Presque Isle, Maine.

(The following was provided by the Bangor Daily News on August 4, 2023)

Gary McGregor Boone ’51

Presque Isle – Gary’s father, Storer W. Boone, M.D., known with affection to many here in Presque Isle as Dr. Storer (“DoctaStorah”) would arrive home for supper and on occasion announce to his wife, Phebe, that “old Hiram got through today” meaning of course that old Hiram had passed.

His older son Gary, 94, “got through” August 1, 2023, at the Aroostook House of Comfort. He was born in July of 1929 to Dr. Storer and Phebe (McGregor) Boone. He was fortunate that he came into a loving and caring family, as he howled constantly as an infant. At age five he contracted whooping cough and double pneumonia and spent the winter bedridden. In the spring of that year he had to learn to walk again. Through childhood he contracted every childhood disease and bouts of the flu.

He experienced a happy boyhood. He grew to love the Maine Public Service enclave at Scopan Dam, Yerxa’s Camps at Square Lake, 1930s airplanes, and Haystack, an ancient volcano. In 1940 the construction of the Presque Isle air base began and Gary at age 11 took some of the first civilian photographs of that activity, images now in the P.I. Air Museum. He was fascinated by the variety and sheer numbers of military aircraft coming into and then leaving Presque Isle for overseas. On one occasion he witnessed a rogue Air Corps captain fly a twin-engined A-20 medium bomber through the opened doors of Hangar No. 4. Quite a sight!

At Bowdoin College, his good friend Dee Caldwell introduced him to geology – there unavailable – so he took beginning geology at Bates. Then came graduate studies at Brown (MA 1954), and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1958. Around 1954-57 there was much talk about continental drift. Gary and his grad student friends, were advised that the subject was off limits, unless they wished to self-destruct in the program. The 1960s witnessed the proof of sea-floor spreading, a new paradigm which provided the basis for much of his research into ancient plate-tectonics in the northern Appalachians. Gary was professor of geology at Syracuse during the academic year and spent summers as a research geologist with the Maine Geological Survey (1961 to 1989). In 1985 he became one of three editors of the still-extant Bedrock Geologic Map of Maine. He was a senior Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Gary married his Shin Pond sweetheart, Susanne MacLean, soon after college. She was an outdoors girl, and was not only a fine wife, mother, and teacher, but also Gary’s steady field-camp supporter for summers spent in the Carrabassett Valley and at Long Falls Dam, Flagstaff Lake. When she died in their fortieth year of marriage in 1992, Gary turned his back on all things geological for many months. But as if arranged by Susanne, who had been contacted by a woman named Alice researching Susanne’s aunt, a famous cartoonist for woman’s suffrage, Gary became involved. He and Alice, both of whom lost their first spouses to cancer, met and later were married on Monhegan Island. Alice accepted a faculty position at the university in Presque Isle, and thus it was she who brought Gary home to Presque Isle fifty years after he left.

Gary was fond of music. At Bowdoin he sang bass, and always looked forward to the productions of Handel’s Messiah at Christmastime. His “Three Bs” – Beethoven, Brahms, and Count Basie – were his music favorites.

Mountain climbing and geology were inseparable. His favorites were Tumbledown near Weld, the Bigelows, Katahdin, The Traveler, Pico da Vara in the Açores, and Schiehallion in the Scottish Highlands. Spring skiing in Tuckerman Ravine almost deprived him of graduation from Bowdoin.

Alice, his dear wife, protector of backyard wildlife and fond keeper of perennials indoors and out, survives him, as do his daughter, Kail, (Ralph) and family of Westport Island, his son, Andrew, and his brother, Alan Boone, M.D., a retired Bangor oncologist. Six grandsons and four great-grandchildren have now taken over the Great Relay Race.

His ashes will be scattered over one of his favorite mountains of Maine. There will be no service, but friends may, at their discretion, gather and swap tales of Gary’s mapping in the western Maine wilderness. Gary will be among the “pioneer geologists” of northern Maine to be honored at the Fall meeting of the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference.

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