BANGOR, Maine — Clyde Worster was nicknamed “Pudge,” and he was called that so often by his family that his given name seems strange to them.
Pudge was a homeless man living in the Bangor area who drank too much, his family said, and who died at the hands of a fellow homeless man on April 27, 2008, reportedly after a fight over beer.
The man who admitted to killing him will be sentenced today in Penobscot County Superior Court.
Worster’s relatives, who live for the most part in the Lincoln area, said they want people to know Pudge chose to be homeless, but that didn’t affect their love for him or lessen the pain of losing him.
“He had a big family,” sister Pat Worster said recently during a family gathering at her Lincoln home. “There were eight of us kids. He was the oldest.
“We told him he could come back [home] at any time but he couldn’t bring the drugs and alcohol,” she said.
Instead, Pudge chose a hard life on the streets of Bangor.
“He was in and out of the shelter for [the last] 13 years,” his mother said. “He didn’t have anything except for the clothes on his back. He’d [come home and] stay for a while, then he was gone.”
Five of his six surviving siblings and his parents, octogenarians Ronald and Blanch Worster, will be in the courtroom during today’s sentencing.
“We are all going to be wearing pink and black because those were his favorite colors,” Pat Worster said Wednesday.
Sister Sharon Pimmentel, who is driving up from Massachusetts, will read an impact statement to the court that will ask the lawyers and judge to refer to their loved one as Pudge, not Clyde.
“That’s what the family called him,” Pat Worster said. “It’s fudge, but with a ‘P.’”
Pudge was a 1963 Mattanawcook Academy graduate who followed his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, something his son also has done. A back injury that happened after he got out of the Navy while he was working in a coal mine in Michigan exposed him to prescription drugs and drug addiction.
“Up until then, he was as good of a guy as you would want,” his mother said.
Clyde Worster listed his address as the Acadia Recovery Community on Indiana Avenue in Bangor and was 63 when he was killed. The Acadia Recovery Community is an emergency homeless shelter that doesn’t turn people away if they are intoxicated. He also had a long criminal record of alcohol-related arrests and had spent some time behind bars.
Stephen James, 58, pleaded guilty in July to killing Pudge at his transient campsite, located near the University College of Bangor campus between the water tower and Interstate 95.
The area is known as The Pines, and Bangor police say it is a place local homeless people and alcoholics gather to consume alcohol while hidden in the trees from those passing by on the highway.
Worster’s body was found broken and bludgeoned. He had a broken neck and blunt force trauma caused his death. Court documents state James used a log to kill him.
James was hanging out and drinking beer with two other homeless people at one of several transient campsites in The Pines in the hours before his arrest on April 28, 2008. He told the Bangor Daily News that day that he had fought with his victim over beer.
“I did beat him up, but he wasn’t dead when I left him,” James said.
Shortly after James pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July, his attorney, F. David Walker IV of Bangor, said, “Most of the story hasn’t been told yet.”
James faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison for the manslaughter.
“I think he should get more than 25 years,” Ronald Worster, the victim’s father, said.
“I think he should get life,” his mom said.
Pudge, who earned the rank of Navy Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class, is buried at Togus National Cemetery with other military veterans.
“He was homeless but he had family that loved him,” Pat Worster said.