Phineas Sprague ’50

Phineas Sprague ’50, an Overseer Emeritus of the College, died on February 7, 2019, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

(The following was published in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on February 13, 2019:)

Phineas Sprague, 93, of Cape Elizabeth, died on Feb. 7, 2019. He was born on June 15, 1925, to the late Lucy Coleman Carnegie and Phineas Shaw Sprague. He was the husband of Mary Louise Thomas Sprague. He attended The Dexter School in Brookline, Mass., Groton School, Groton, Mass., Bowdoin College, Class of 1950, and Harvard Business School. Between 1943 and 1946, he served in the Army Combat Engineers in the European Theater. After completing his education, he was employed by C. H. Sprague and Son Co., at both the Sprague Steamship Co. in Boston, Mass. and Petroleum Heat and Power Co. in Providence, R.I. After moving to Maine in 1970, he was involved in several business startups including Plasmine Incorporated and the purchase of the Portland Company at 58 Fore Street, where he founded The Portland Engineering Company, a fabricator of components for the nuclear industry. In 1948, he married Mary Louise Thomas of Portland. They began their seventy-year journey together, honeymooning on the schooner, “Heart’s Desire.” Six children and their spouses, fourteen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren followed, to their delight. Phin and Mary Lou lived in Cambridge, Mass., Columbus, Ohjio, Providence, R.I., Prouts Neck, and in 1997, moved to Spurwink Farm, in Cape Elizabeth, where they started a horse-boarding business, raised Belted Galloways, and introduced Scottish Black Face sheep to Richmond Island. “What I love to do most, is make people laugh, and if I can’t do that, I’ll make them giggle!” Known to his friends as Phin, he was an avid sportsman, a community initiator and promoter, joker, coupleteer, and consummate fun-loving gentleman. He was a skier, hiker, sailor, aviator, oarsman, and fly fisherman. He particularly loved bird shooting with his faithful German Shorthaired Pointer, Aimee. At Bowdoin College, Phin was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, graduated with Bowdoin’s “Biggest and Best” class of 1950, was president of the outing club, a promoter of the fraternity system, and founder of the Bowdoin Rowing Association. He was appointed Overseer of the College in 1985 and Overseer Emeritus 1991. He served on many boards, including, in Providence, the Providence Boys Club, the Smith Hill Girls Club, and Rhode Island State March of Dimes as chairman, and in Maine, Camp Ketcha and the Scarborough Land Trust. Phin was active in the Rhode Island and Maine Republican parties. He began the first local government committee of the Providence Chamber of Commerce, served on the Scarborough Sanitary District and ran for state representative from Cape Elizabeth. He was a Mason and a member of the Rotary Club. Phin was a proud member of the Society of Colonial Wars and the Society of the Cincinnati, and a life-long member of the Prouts Neck community. Throughout his life whenever he saw something that needed doing he never hesitated to jump in to create something of collegial pleasure. With Amos Winter, and Sel Hannah, Phin marked out the first trails and worked to establish Sugarloaf Mountain as a first-rate ski resort. In Scarborough, he started the Nonesuch Oar and Paddle Club with Stan Plagenhoef. His Spurwink Airfield Fly-In has been a family fun event for twenty years. He saw value in fostering community engagement and dialogue through discussion groups, launching “Maine Issues,” and with John Ridge, “Issues and Solutions.” Phin is survived by his wife, Mary Louise; and his children, Phineas Sprague Jr., Mimi Hauenstein, Seth Sprague, Abbott Sprague, Cate Gilbane, and Happy Rowe, their spouses and children; and great-grandchildren; also, by sister Millicent Monks, half-sisters Julie H. Sprague and Jeanette Hagen, half-brother, Shaw Sprague, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Lucy Sprague Foster. A celebration of Phin’s “Happy Days” will be held in the summer.

1 Comment Phineas Sprague ’50

  1. Eugene P Flynn

    My father, Henry M. Flynn worked for C.H. Sprague and Son for 40 years.
    He was the paymaster and paid the crews on the Celestial, Widawake and a. 3rd ship. He enjoyed his Long association with Phin Sprague, Bob Monks and Dwight Allison. As a child I will always remember my day on the Sprague Yacht, the Lions Whelp.


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