May 23, 2018
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Jim Dowe, longtime Bangor banker, MPBN chief dies of cancer

Contributed photo | BDN
Contributed photo | BDN
James Dowe Jr.
By Nick McCrea and Whit Richardson, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — Paul James Dowe Jr., the former CEO of Bangor Savings Bank and the Maine Public Broadcasting Corp., died over the weekend, according to a report from MPBN.

Dowe, who was 64, was a longtime banker, holding positions at People’s Bank, Androscoggin Bank and Bath Savings Institution before joining Bangor Savings Bank, where he served as CEO from 1995 to 2006.

After leaving the banking world, Dowe joined MPBN as CEO, a position he held from 2006 to 2012.

Dowe died from cancer on Sunday. He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann, daughters, Caitlin and Erika, and son, PJ, according to MPBN.

Dowe was a 1972 graduate of the University of Maine.

He offered his experience to many nonprofit organizations, serving as a board member for the United Way of Eastern Maine, University of Maine, Maine Community Foundation, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, The Nature Conservancy and the Creative Economy Council, according to a 2006 article in the Bangor Daily News.

Jim Conlon, current president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank, called Dowe “a man of vision and a man of great integrity.”

During an interview Monday, Conlon and Jim Goff, chairman of the bank’s board, said Dowe sparked the company to its first major expansion in 1998, when it acquired 28 former Fleet Bank branches, adding to its own 15 branches and securing its position as a statewide institution.

“[Dowe] was never a person who would charge into a room and take over,” Goff said, but he was a natural leader and his presence and influence were always felt no matter where he was.

After a long career as a private and public executive, Dowe wanted to “experience life outside the boardroom,” according to Robert Strong, chartered financial analyst at Bangor Savings Bank.

So, through his role at The Nature Conservancy, Dowe volunteered in 2011 to move to Kenya to lead economic development efforts for tribes living in the area of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northeastern Kenya, according to Henry Schmelzer, chairman of the board for MPBN.

He was only there for a few months when he became ill and returned to the United States, where he received his cancer diagnosis, Schmelzer said.

Conlon and Goff said Dowe spent most of his time in the closing months of his life with family.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Jim Dowe,” Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement Monday. “I first worked with Jim, then the CEO of Bath Savings Institution, when I was a legislative assistant to Sen. Bill Cohen, and I continued to work with him many years later when he became president and CEO of Maine Public Broadcasting. Jim was an innovative leader who was always ready to seek a new challenge. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Dowe was one of the founding members of the Retro Rockerz, a 1950s, ’60s and ’70s cover band, according to Maine Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mead, a bandmate of Dowe’s.

“He was just an exceptional guy,” Mead said. “He was engaging and connected to people on a very personal level. I think that everybody who ever met Jim Dowe considered themselves a good friend of his.”

When Mead was nominated to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 2007, Dowe volunteered to travel to Augusta to voice his support for Mead in front of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Mead said Dowe was known for his rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s classic “Margaritaville.”

Mead said the band has decided to retire that tune in honor of Dowe and will hold some sort of tribute at its July 25 Cool Sounds Concert performance at Pickering Square in Bangor.

“We’ll never do that one again,” Mead said. “That was his song.”

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