MILBRIDGE, Maine — A veteran who served as a selectman for 18 years and during his adult life became known for his service and advocacy for Down East coastal Maine has died.
Harold E. West died Friday after a brief illness at a hospital in Ellsworth, according to a paid obituary in Saturday’s Bangor Daily News. West was 85 years old.
“Harold West was a fine gentleman,” Gary Willey, a former selectman who briefly served on the board with West, said Sunday. “I know he’s going to be missed.”
West was a Milbridge native who served in the Army in World War II under Gen. George Patton, according to his obituary. For his military service, West earned a Purple Heart and, in 2006, he was awarded medals he had earned during the war but never received. During a special ceremony on his 82nd birthday at the local veterans’ club, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud presented West with a Good Conduct Medal, an American Campaign Medal, a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and a World War II Victory Medal.
After his military service, West returned home and worked for a local garage for 24 years before joining the Maine Department of Transportation, where he worked for 18 years before he retired in 1976.
It was for the efforts West made outside of his paid work that he became well known in Milbridge and in the area. He served as a selectman for 18 years, was on the board of Milbridge Medical Center and was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also led efforts to have the local harbor dredged, piers constructed and re-paired, and helped lead the effort to have Route 1 in Hancock and Washington counties improved and designated a scenic byway.
“He’s done a lot for the town,” Eric Beal, a current Milbridge selectman, said Sunday. “He’s always been active in town politics. He could associate with anyone. He had the gift.”
Though a Democrat, West was well known and liked by members of both parties. When the rebuilt Route 1 bridge over the Narraguagus River was dedicated last year on West’s 85th birthday, it was two Republicans — state. Sen. Kevin Raye and state Rep. Diane Tilton — who had led efforts in the Legislature to name it after West.
One key contact in Augusta that West developed and kept was Gov. John Baldacci, who on Friday issued a statement on West’s death.
“With the love and support of his family, Harold spent a lifetime making Washington County and Maine a better place,” Baldacci said. “He will be missed.”
A funeral is expected to be held for West at 2 p.m. Monday, March 15, at the local Bragdon-Kelley Funeral Home.