Maragus, longtime Millinocket activist, dies at 74

Alyce Maragus
Photo Courtesy of Lamson Funeral Home
Alyce Maragus
Posted Jan. 04, 2012, at 2:45 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 04, 2012, at 5:01 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Alyce Maragus, an outspoken resident and occasional political activist known for regularly attending Town Council meetings, has died. She was 74.

Town Manager Eugene Conlogue announced her death Wednesday morning in an email to councilors.

“It is with deepest regret that I report to you the passing of Alyce Maragus earlier this morning. As you are aware, Alyce was a genuine cause fighter and a person very dedicated to her community,” Conlogue wrote. “While one might disagree with her from time to time on some of her issues, no one could ever doubt that she was sincere. She will be missed.”

Maragus died at Millinocket Regional Hospital on Wednesday following an illness. A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter. Though Maragus could be counted upon to attend council meetings regularly, she had missed many meetings over the last year.

A longtime resident, Maragus ran unsuccessfully for office several times, including a Town Council candidacy in 2008 in which she garnered 594 votes. She also helped recruit a veterinarian to the Katahdin region the year before as a founder of the Millinocket Community Action Committee, a residents’ economic and community development effort.

The area had lacked a veterinarian for several years.

Maragus was not shy about staking herself to controversial, sometimes radical, positions on a wide variety of topics, but almost always centered her attention on Millinocket. An author of letters to the Bangor Daily News and local newspapers since at least 2002, she frequently was critical of town leaders. A letter printed on Oct. 23, 2003, criticizing then Town Councilor Avern Danforth and Chairman Donald McLauglin for supposedly curtailing residents’ right to speak at council meetings was characteristic of her tone.

“Have the Millinocket town councilors lost their minds? The council meeting held Oct. 16 was a public disgrace,” she wrote.

During a meeting held in spring 2011 regarding Roxanne Quimby’s proposal to donate 70,000 acres to the National Park Service in 2016, Maragus opined that councilors shouldn’t listen to town businesspeople who advocated for a park service feasibility study of Quimby’s plan, calling the business owners “outsiders,” even though many had lived or worked in town for several years.

She expounded on this claim in an opinion column she wrote in August 2011.

“Now this may sound like sour grapes, but if these people who moved to Millinocket because it is a quaint, lovely and friendly town are now unhappy that they cannot change our traditional way of life, perhaps they should make the decision to either [accept] our way of life or move on to greener pastures elsewhere,” Maragus wrote.

Maragus was virtually alone, and widely dismissed, in town when she vocally opposed a Maine State H.O.G. Rally that drew several hundred Harley-Davidson riders to town in 2009. Maragus was of the opinion that the riders would be disruptive, but police said the rally passed peacefully.

Maragus was born Nov. 16, 1937, in Jersey City, N.J., the daughter of William and Nellie (Taylor) Werner. According to the obituary compiled by Lamson Funeral Home of Millinocket, Maragus worked at various jobs, including as an accounts payable clerk at Millinocket Regional Hospital.

Maragus is survived by her three children, Edward Henry Lax, Linda Susanne Lax and Steven William Lax; a grandson, Edward Steven Lax; and cousins, nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, Stanley “Bob” Maragus, who had worked for many years in the Katahdin region paper mills.

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