Horace A. Hildreth, Jr. ’54 died on December 12, 2019 in Falmouth, Maine.
(The following was published in the Portland Press Herald on December 18, 2019)
Horace Augustus Hildreth Jr. (“Hoddy”) died December 12, 2019, at his home in Falmouth, with his family by his side. He was born December 17, 1931, in Cambridge, MA to Horace Augustus Hildreth, Sr. and Katherine Wing Hildreth. In 1938, their family moved from Dover, MA to Maine. In 1944, they moved again to Augusta when his father was elected Governor. Hoddy attended Cony High School and then Deerfield Academy. Hoddy always approached life with a sense of adventure. After graduating from Deerfield, he went on a trip to Labrador and Baffin Island led by Admiral MacMillan on the schooner Bowdoin. This voyage instilled in him a lifelong fascination with the Arctic. In his 50s, he took several trips to the coast of Labrador. The first was in an inflatable Zodiac, with a reluctant brother-in-law and cousin as crew. He took two other trips with family and friends on a steel-hulled, ketch-rigged motor sailor, the Tuak. He loved exploring the coves, inlets, islands, and communities on Labrador’s complex coast. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1954 after attending Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, for his senior year while his father was ambassador. While there, he went on an expedition to K2, which involved crossing a turbulent river on gradually deflating goatskin bladders. Hoddy had a lifelong passion for conservation and environmental protection. As a state senator (1966-1968), he was a champion of some of Maine’s first environmental laws, including establishing what was then called the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC). LURC’s purpose was to provide some protection for Maine’s vast territory of unorganized townships. Hoddy knew that Maine would be subject to tremendous development pressure over the coming decades, and that Maine’s undeveloped north woods were of irreplaceable environmental value. As he argued to the legislature at the time, “Don’t you think it would make some sense for the State of Maine, for once, to look ahead to what our problem is going to be and do something about it?” After serving in the legislature, he became a champion for many environmental, research, and sustainable development nonprofits, including Maine Audubon, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Nature Conservancy in Maine, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Bigelow Laboratory, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and Maine Conservation Voters. Two organizations that were especially close to his heart were the Island Institute, where he was Chairman of the Board for many years, and the Conservation Law Foundation. Hoddy was passionate about his family business, Diversified Communications. It became a strong broadcasting and trade show company under his leadership. He became CEO in 1980, and his approach was to focus on people and strategy. With his leadership team, he built a culture of excellent business performance, good communication, treating employees well, and good corporate citizenship. He believed strongly in empowering people, and was known for the phrase, “Hire good people and get out of their way.” In all his pursuits, Hoddy was insightful, expressive, and a source of good humor. He had a strong sense of right and wrong, and a willingness to buck tradition and political party. He loved cooking for friends and family, and engaging in vigorous discussions over cocktails and meals. He was devoted to his wife, Alison (Wooly) Hildreth, during their 63 years of marriage. They were married in 1956 and raised four boys, Daniel (Hooker), Hasket, Malcolm (Barney), and Thomas (Tom). Hoddy and Wooly were independent in their interests but always supported each other. They both loved spending time on Vinalhaven Island, where they have had a place since 1968. Hoddy is survived by Wooly, and by his three sisters, Josephine (Dodie), Anne, and Katherine (Dassy). He is also survived by three sons, and 10 grandchildren: Frances and Addison Hildreth; Elsie, Anna, and Faye Hildreth; and Aya, Chiara, Lennox, Vera, and Bodhi Hildreth. He will be missed by his family, friends, and faithful dog, Percy.