BANGOR, Maine — Andrew Taber, an expert watch repairman who ran a business in downtown Bangor for nearly 60 years and who, as a teenager, stumbled across the bullet-ridden body of gangster Al Brady, died this week. He was 88.
Taber was born in Bangor in 1921 and, except for his college years, spent his entire life in the Queen City. He graduated from Bangor High School in 1940 and went on to study at the Waltham School of Watch Making in Massachusetts.
After he graduated from college, Taber taught at the specialized school until 1948 and then moved back to his hometown to open Taber’s Watch Repair on Central Street. He ran the shop until his retirement just two years ago. His son, Keith Taber, now owns and runs the watch repair shop.
“He was one of those individuals who was synonymous with downtown Bangor,” said Ron Harriman, who had an office on the same floor as Taber for about 15 years. “Everyone knew him … certainly everyone with a watch.”
Everett Leighton, whose jewelry repair shop is just two doors down from Taber’s, called Taber a good friend for many years.
“I think we’ve been in Bangor the same amount of time,” he said. “He was a very precise repairman.”
“He was a very hard worker. He was here every day, it seemed,” added Rob Lorimer, who runs a RDL Strings, a violin sales, repair and lessons business in the same building.
Those who knew him said he loved telling stories of the Bangor he grew up in. He was one of the last witnesses of the assassination of Al Brady, a gangster who was shot dead by FBI agents on Oct. 12, 1937, on Central Street, just a few feet from Taber’s shop.
The shop itself is a throwback to the 1950s and ’60s, a specialty business that is becoming less and less common.
“He was a wonderful guy. He was the type of person that could take a look at a watch and say within five minutes, ‘I can fix it,’ or ‘it’s hopeless,’” said Councilor Hal Wheeler.
Taber was featured in the pages of the Bangor Daily News in 2004.
“You’ve got to know your work,” he said at the time. “If you don’t know your work, you might as well leave it.”
Taber also said he had seen a lot of changes in the watch business over the years.
“Back then it was mostly pocket watches. Wristwatches came out during the first world war, and anybody seen wearing a wristwatch was called a sissy.”
Aside from his interest in watches, Taber was an outdoorsman who spent many days at his camp on Beech Hill Pond.