BANGOR, Maine — Stretching back decades, Mary Jane Irving, chairwoman of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and longtime employee of Bangor Savings Bank, gave back to the community. She died Friday night from complications of an illness she had been battling for the past two years, the Chamber said.
People in the region she served were saddened by the news of her death, John Porter, president and CEO of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, said Friday.
“It was a surprise to all of us,” he said. “We all knew she was confronting an illness, but Jane was a very private person, and we didn’t know how serious it was.”
Porter had a meeting with Irving two weeks ago and “she was talking about her plans to retire,” he said. “So, it’s tough.”
Irving served with numerous clubs and organizations in the area, and was a natural fit at the Chamber when she joined the board five years ago, the Chamber president said.
“She had this quiet, authoritative way about her and when she spoke everybody piped down and listened to what she had to say,” Porter said.
After working for 35 years at Bangor Savings Bank, earning the title of senior vice president and manager of mortgage development at the financial institution, Irving was more than just an employee — she was part of the company’s family, said Yellow Light Breen, Bangor Savings’ executive vice president.
“It’s a very sad week for all of us at Bangor Savings Bank,” he said. “She was just so beloved by many of her colleagues and longtime customers. It’s really tragic.”
Over the years, Irving went above and beyond when it came to customers, Breen said. Some have told him that, “when I was down and out, she took a chance on me,” he recalled
“She was just a great role model for all of us, and we’re just really heartbroken,” Breen said.
“Jane was always a professional, bringing a quiet, firm and friendly demeanor to our discussions,” said Andrew Hamilton, Chair Elect of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “We will deeply miss her visionary voice of reason on our board.”
As a banker dealing with mortgages, Irving was passionate about affordable housing in the region. Porter said when discussing the Chamber’s identified community issue, “You could tell she really cared about that.”
She also worked hard to find the Chamber a new home, which was accomplished in June when it was announced they would lease 20 South St., the former Maine Energy location.
“This was really important to her,” Porter said. “It was a step forward for the community. She was very instrumental in our work searching for and finding the space we are going to move into in October.
“She made that happen,” he said. “To say she willed it is not an exaggeration.”
Construction at the new Cross Insurance Center on Main Street forced the Chamber to move. The organization is housed in temporary city-owned quarters near Bangor International Airport.
Irving also held positions with the United Way, Bangor Area Breakfast Rotary Club and other community service groups, and in 2002 was honored for her many years of service on the state board for the March of Dimes.
“I just can’t say enough about the way she had about her,” Porter said. “She had a really tremendous impact.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the former Maine Energy location as Summer Street. It is South Street.