BANGOR, Maine — Successful businessman and longtime civic leader and philanthropist George Davis Carlisle, 98, died Thursday night.
Carlisle, whose father George T. Carlisle founded Prentiss & Carlisle timberland management firm with Henry Prentiss in 1924, most recently contributed more than $500,000 toward the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer and attended the dedication ceremony for the George D. Carlisle Family Infusion Center there.
But that was merely his latest contribution to the community he loved. Carlisle was raised in his father’s company,and graduated from Bangor High School and the University of Maine. He advocated for business in general, and specifically for those related to forest industries. In 1974, he opposed the proposed federal designation of the Penobscot River as a scenic river, citing the restrictions that could be placed on landowners whose properties bordered it.
In 1975, he stressed the need for aggressive actions to control the invasive spruce budworm, including spraying, in order to protect Maine’s forestlands. And in 1977, Carlisle supported the use of Canadian woodsmen in Maine timber operations, citing the practicality of hiring people who live near their job sites. He supported the Tree Growth Tax in 1978, a controversial levy that valued forestland based on its current rather than its potential use.
Carlisle stayed active in the issues related to his industry throughout his career, even as he climbed the corporate ladder of his family’s business and branched out to other areas of city and statewide influence, leading several boards and organizations including Bangor City Council, Bangor School Board, Bangor Rotary Club, Eastern Maine Trust and Banking board of trustees, Eastern Maine Forest Forum, Millinocket Trust Co. board of trustees, American Pulpwood Foundation, Good Samaritan Home and Home for Aged Men, among many others.
“George Carlisle was a pillar of the community whose visionary leadership helped shaped Bangor for decades,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in a press release. “He was an extraordinary individual who leaves an enormous legacy. My heart goes out to his family in their time of loss.”
He also never forgot his alma mater, where he was a member of Xi Sigma Psi, the Society of American Foresters and University of Maine Foundation, of which he was the leader for at least 16 years. He was given an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1986 from University of Maine and several honorary memberships into honor societies and other awards throughout his lifetime.
But above all, Carlisle was about family. His son David worked through the ranks and earned his place as president of the family business and now is board chairman. David Carlisle is passing the family legacy to his son Benjamin. In a June BDN interview, Carlisle spoke with pride about his grandson. “His job is everything,” he told reporter Meg Haskell.
The cancer treatment area Carlisle saw come to fruition earlier this year had special meaning to him and his family. Carlisle was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1997 of cervical cancer and his daughter Mary was undergoing treatment for cancer earlier this year.
“We, at Eastern Maine Medical Center, are greatly saddened by the passing of George Carlisle,” said Deborah Johnson, president and CEO of the hospital. “He was a kind man whose generous support has helped make it possible for us to provide the highest quality cancer treatment in a supportive, patient and family friendly environment. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.”
Visiting hours are 5-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at Brookings-Smith funeral home, 133 Center St., Bangor. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John’s Catholic Church, 207 York St., Bangor. He will be buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
According to Carlisle’s obituary, memorial gifts may be sent to Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Bangor 04401.