HOPE, Maine — The Camden-area community is both mourning and remembering Wednesday the life of one of its most dedicated residents, Ken Bailey.
Bailey died Tuesday. He had been battling cancer for several years.
“This is a sad day for Camden,” said Donald White Jr., who serves on the Select Board. “His loss will be felt by the community for a long time.”
The 62-year-old Bailey had worn nearly every hat for the community over the past four decades. He served on the Board of Selectmen, ran a shoe store, had been editor of the local newspaper and an outdoor writer for various local papers, and served as a firefighter and police officer.
One job that has been synonymous with the Camden native was Megunticook Lake warden. Audrey Moody, president of the Megunticook Lake Watershed Association, said that Bailey’s grandparents, parents and now his family have had a camp on the lake. Bailey loved the lake and felt his main duties were to educate the public about this natural resource and to protect those on the waterway.
“Ken would be out on the lake, see someone with a boat that was not registered or without life jackets and he would speak to them. He would never give a summons the first time,” Moody said, but instead would tell them he did not want to see them out there the next day unless they had registered the boat or gotten the safety equipment.
She said Bailey was one of the calmest and kindest people she knew.
His love for the outdoors was expressed through columns that he would write for — at various times — The Camden Herald, The Courier-Gazette and VillageSoup publications.
“He was an all-around environmentalist,” she said.
Bailey was a Master Maine Guide and had a guide business, Wilderness Ways, that he started in 1978.
He served on the Board of Selectmen from 1972 to 1977 and again from 1980 through 1982. He ran the former Hodgman’s Footwear store on Main Street and later served as editor of The Camden Herald.
He also was active with the Camden Snow Bowl and was director of the Camden Parks and Recreation Department at one time.
John French, a Select Board member, said Bailey has done a lot for the community in an official capacity and also volunteered his services for numerous charitable endeavors. For instance, Bailey emceed the annual Maine Lobster Festival’s Maine Sea Goddess Pageant in nearby Rockland for 22 years.
Lobster Festival President Tim Carroll said Bailey had the right personality for the job.
“He was able to calm the nerves of the young ladies and also was able to entertain the crowds,” Carroll said.
In July 2008, the community had a fundraiser to assist Bailey with the expenses associated with his battle against cancer. The event generated $110,000 and included a proclamation from then-Gov. John Baldacci.
Bailey was a graduate of Camden-Rockport High School and the University of Maine at Augusta. He was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War.
He was married for 42 years to Sandy Thurston Bailey and they have two children — Aaron and Michelle — and five grandchildren.