Joseph Sewall ’43, H’83

Joseph Sewall ’43, H’83, four term Maine Senate president and recipient of an honorary degree from Bowdoin, died on November 23, 2011, in Bangor, Maine.

He was born on December 17, 1921, in Old Town, son of the late James Wingate Sewall ’06, and prepared for college at Old Town High School and Holderness School. A member of a storied Maine family, he was born and raised in a home built by his great-grandfather George Sewall, speaker of the Maine House of Representatives in 1851. He was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. He served to lieutenant junior grade in the Navy during World War II and was awarded the Air Medal for his service as an aviation navigator. After his father died in 1946, he took over as president and CEO of the family business, James W. Sewall Co., a forestry and surveying business his grandfather James started in 1880. He bought an airplane and camera to survey and create maps from an aerial view. He served on the Old Town City Council for nine years before being elected to the Maine Senate in 1967. As a freshman Republican senator, he earned a spot on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, and went on to serve four terms as Senate president from 1975 to 1982, tied for the longest Maine Senate presidency. He lost his seat to a Democrat in 1982. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from Bowdoin in 1983. He joined the Maine Maritime Academy board of trustees in 1984, and in 2003 the Academy honored him for 20 years of service by giving him a captain’s chair. He moved to Castine in 1995 and donated the family homestead to the University of Maine. He was an avid outdoorsman known equally for his fishing prowess and golf game. He is survived by a son, David T. Sewall; a daughter, Abigail; a granddaughter; and a sister, Elizabeth Gary. He was predeceased by his wife, M. Hilda Thoreau Wheelwright Sewall, whom he married on May 28, 1940; a son, Joseph W. Sewall ; and four siblings, including brother George T. Sewall ’32.

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