Victim in fatal Belfast accident identified as Machiasport poet

Posted May 12, 2011, at 1:19 p.m.
Last modified May 12, 2011, at 3:21 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Police have identified the driver who died from injuries suffered in a Route 1 collision Wednesday as 73-year-old Philip Rose of Machiasport.

Rose had been driving north in a Chevrolet Blazer when he began to drive erratically and crossed the centerline, according to eyewitnesses.

He had swerved into the opposite breakdown lane when he tried to correct and then crashed into a tractor-trailer cab from Northeast Transport in Waldoboro.

Truck driver Edson Spear, 65, of Friendship attempted to avoid striking the Blazer, but could not, according to Officer Eric Kelley of the Belfast Police Department.

Rose was taken to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast in an attempt to stabilize him before taking him for more medical treatment by LifeFlight helicopter.

He died at the hospital, Police Chief Jeff Trafton said Tuesday.

The fatal collision is still under investigation, but the chief called it “an obvious traffic accident.” Both vehicles apparently had been following the speed limit of 55 mph.

The accident caused Route 1 to be closed until 6:11 p.m., or just over three hours.

According to a previously published Bangor Daily News article, Rose was a sea captain who delivered yachts for boat companies and lived on a bluff overlooking Machias Bay.

He was also a poet and a retired English teacher who loved to write story poems in a Down East dialect.

Rose was a member of the Salt Coast Sages, a Down East poets group composed of word-lovers over age 50 who had met in a poetry class at the Sunrise Senior College through the University of Maine at Machias.

“We’ll miss Phil very much,” Gerald George of Machias, another member of the poets group, said Thursday.

Rose had been looking forward to having a small book of his poems published, George said, and was very active with the poets group. He participated in many poetry readings around the state.

“He was a good reader of his work,” George said. “What we knew him best for as a poet was what he called dialogue poems — poems featuring two speakers talking to each other in a kind of Down East dialect. It was very effectively done. People always enjoyed hearing those. That was quite marvelous.”

Rose had been an English teacher at Falmouth High School. When he retired he returned to Washington County, where he had family roots and property.

“We used to call him ‘Captain’ sometimes, because he was a seaman,” George said. “He knew all about sailing. He knew about waterways in Maine and Massachusetts and even farther down the coast.”

Rose had just been re-elected to the board of directors of the all-volunteer senior college, where he had taught a course on navigation and on Machias history.

He left two sisters and two sons, George said, adding that he had received a phone call about his friend’s death on Wednesday night.

“It was a shock,” he said. “It was halftime in the Celtics game. I turned it off. I didn’t feel like watching more basketball, after we heard that.”

From Philip Rose’s poem “Fog Trip”

He stood alone

in his old dory,

alone in thick fog

out of sight of land.

Wrapped in cold and dampness

he felt strangely at ease.

He shipped his oars,

stood feeling the gentle

rise and fall of the swells,

listened, listened

for what he couldn’t see.

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