PORTLAND – Stephen Lewis Griswold, 64, died peacefully Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, surrounded by members of his family and close friends. Stephen was welcomed to the world May 5, 1948, in Torrington, Conn., by proud parents, Dorothy Adelaide and Lewis Leslie Griswold, and by his loving big sister, Rosanne.
In 1952 his younger brother, Lee Franklin was born. Stephen relished his memories of growing up in the 1950s, and particularly their annual visits to Torrington’s “Christmas Village,” which inspired his lifelong love of Christmas and the spirit of joyous giving that he demonstrated throughout his life. Another seminal part of his early life was his family’s discovery in 1955 of Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport, which they visited every summer and where in 1959 they purchased the cottage that has been the site of many family gatherings for 54 years. Stephen attended Litchfield High School, where he was a center – No. 55, on the high school basketball team and where he discovered his love for American history. These two pursuits, together with his lifelong love of Maine, led him to Bates College, Lewiston. There he majored in history and played basketball, and in his junior year he married his high school sweetheart, Susan Funderburk, with whom he had two children, daughter, Laurie; and son, Matthew. After graduation from Bates, Stephen was hired as housing coordinator for the newly formed Maine Model Cities program in Lewiston. There he found his professional passion for real-estate development. While housing coordinator at Model Cities, he helped form Alliance for Better Housing, a non-profit corporation that developed numerous housing projects for low-income families and the elderly. In the late 1970s, he formed Shelter Group, Inc., with partner, Terry Nadeau. Stephen was a visionary developer, particularly in his ability to envision and finance complex projects. He created the first Maine private syndication of limited partnership interests in the mid-1970s, and led Shelter Group’s expansion into a multi-disciplinary development practice, from building rehabilitation to nursing homes and health care, mixed use office, educational, residential and hospitality projects. With his partners he developed, owned and operated Sheraton Harborside Hotel, Portsmouth, N.H.; Hilton Garden Inn, Auburn; and Hampton Inn and Suites, Exeter, N.H. The Sheraton Harborside Hotel was one of the first “condotels,” the combination of hotel and condominium units, in the country. In 1999 the Sheraton was awarded “Best Franchised Property Worldwide” by Starwood Hotels and Resorts. One of his early developments, the Gateway Building, Lewiston, converted a roofless burned-out building into 27 elderly apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail and office space that now anchors one of the most prominent street corners in the city. Throughout his real estate career, Stephen demonstrated creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance. He had a gift for communicating his vision and his enthusiasm to others, and was always willing to take the time to explain the nuances of a project, as well as to involve others in bringing it to fruition. He was an active participant in civic life, serving on numerous non-profit boards, including a term as president of Maine Development Foundation. He was a lifelong lover of cars, from the ’76 Corvette in which he and his brother took a whirlwind 15-day tour of the U.S. to the 1932 Deuce Coupe he lovingly restored and including the NASCAR team that he and his wife owned with his friend, Brad Leighton, as its driver. He loved to travel to favorite spots in Bermuda and Florida, to his camp in Denmark, Maine, and to the family cottage at Goose Rocks Beach. He was an avid sports fan, attending as many New England Patriots games as he could, and enjoying his role as one of the owners of the Maine Red Claws basketball team. Although Stephen committed much of his time to his work and his hobbies, his greatest passion was for his family and friends.
In addition to his children, Laurie and Matthew, with his second marriage to Margaret Ellen Smith, he became the stepfather to Chris Thompson and Martha Bryon. Stephen and Margaret’s family grew to include 13 grandchildren, Laurie and Micah Craft’s children, Elora, Salem, Bella, Emma, Loren and Carter; Matthew Griswold and Charndra Michaud’s son, Adler; Martha Bryon’s children, Amy, Forrest, Waits and Phoebe; and Chris and Erica Thompson’s children, Blythe and Quinn. He viewed his role as grandfather to be his greatest achievement, and felt most fulfilled and at peace when his home was full of his children and grandchildren. Stephen will be greatly missed by many, and most of all by his loving wife and partner of 27 years, Margaret.
A celebration of his life will be held this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to “Dr. Edwin Alyea’s research in honor of Mr. Griswold” and sent to Dr. Edwin Alyea, Division of Hematologic Malignancies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave., D1B30, Boston, MA 02215.