Longtime Hancock County District Court judge dies at 80

Judge Bernard C. Staples
Judge Bernard C. Staples
Posted Sept. 28, 2013, at 9:08 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The former District Court judge who presided in Hancock County for more than 20 years died Thursday at the age of 80.

Bernard Staples of Hulls Cove retired in 2010 to attend Grace Evangelical Seminary, according to a previously published report. He was appointed in 1989 by Gov. John McKernan.

“All of us at the court are sorry to hear of his passing,” Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley said in a statement issued Friday. “Judge Staples served the people of Maine for over 21 years as a judge of the District Court. He was a kind and compassionate presence on the bench in Ellsworth, and it was no accident that when he retired it was to attend to attend a seminary school to follow a different calling to continue to serve others. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know and work with him.”

Staples was born and raised in Rockland. He graduated from Bates College in 1955, then spent two years in the U.S. Army. He tried teaching school for a year, but decided it wasn’t “a good fit” for him. He graduated from Boston University Law School in 1961.

After working as an attorney for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntington, W.Va., Staples decided to return home to Maine. He went into practice with Ralph C. Masterman in Bar Harbor, working primarily in Hancock County until 1989.

He told the Bangor Daily News when he retired that scripture has informed but never influenced his work as a judge and as a lawyer.

“The Old Testament taught me to respect the difference between right and wrong as set forth in the Ten Commandments,” he said. “The New Testament lessons of our lord Jesus Christ taught me to be compassionate.”

Staples’ favorite place to study his Bible, however, was not at home or in a church.

“My recreation is kayaking, and my kayak buddy and I often seek a quiet cove or some other place to sit in our kayaks and read Holy Scripture in a church that is like no other on this Earth.”

Funeral services will be announced next week, according to a brief obituary published Saturday in the Bangor Daily News.

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