Lost man’s family still holds hope

Posted May 20, 2009, at 11:09 p.m.

It has been a year since 69-year-old Chuck Springer, suffering from dementia, disappeared from his home on a back road in Belmont. Despite an intensive search and his family’s ongoing efforts to keep his name and his photographs in the public eye, Springer’s fate remains an unsolved mystery.

“There’s been nothing,” said Springer’s sister Joanne Grigoreas, who now lives in Lebanon, a small town near the New Hampshire border.

Official searches in the rural areas around Springer’s Waldo County home ended unsuccessfully within a few weeks after her brother disappeared on May 2, 2008, she said. Her own campaign to contact Springer’s buddies in the long-distance trucking world he loved also has been fruitless.

Grigoreas acknowledges that her brother may have gotten lost in the thick tangle of the Maine woods and died. Or he may have caught a ride out of the area; he could, literally, be anywhere.

“But we always hold out hope that he’s alive somewhere,” she said Wednesday. “Maybe someone’s helping him.”

At the time of his disappearance, Springer lived in his own home with his mother, Ellie Springer. His progressive dementia and increasingly irrational behavior had resulted in the loss of his driver’s license, a loss that angered and frustrated him. An argument with his mother the evening before he disappeared may have been the last straw. Early the next morning, Springer took off on foot and hasn’t been seen since.

Grigoreas thinks it is possible that Springer headed north. Her brother was drawn to rural landscapes and sparsely settled areas. He would have felt safe in northern Maine, she said, and she hopes residents of that region have heard of his disappearance and will watch for him.

Ellie Springer, 89, moved to Lebanon last fall to be closer to her two other children. This spring, Grigoreas and her husband moved in with her, and she has a son in nearby Wells.

It was hard to leave the home she had shared with Chuck, Springer said Wednesday, especially wondering if he might walk back in the kitchen door as suddenly as he walked out a year ago.

“But my family didn’t want me to live alone in Belmont after Chuck left,” Springer said. A family friend is living in the home now.

She thinks that her son’s dementia was not so bad that he wouldn’t be able to tell someone his name or where he lived. She concedes that after this long year of no news, he may indeed be deceased. The possibility grieves her, but she knows that if Chuck were to be found alive, his dementia would likely make it impossible for him to live at home and would almost certainly progress to a prolonged and difficult death.

“Maybe God has taken him, maybe because [God] doesn’t want me and my family to go through watching him die like that,” she said. “I try not to think about it very much. But every night when I say my prayers, I say, ‘God, I leave him in your hands.’”

Anyone with information about Chuck Springer should contact the local police or sheriff’s department.

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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