GUILFORD, Maine — “I’m going home today, one way or the other!” Those were Bob Littlefield’s last words to Tom Goulette on Friday, Nov. 1.
“By Saturday, he had gone home, not the one way, but the other,” Goulette said. “Eventually, everything must end, and if Bob’s appropriated time was over, consider it a blessing that his end came quickly and he did not spend months in a facility. Not only would he have hated languishing in such a place … mostly he would have been upset by how expensive it was.”
Littlefield, Guilford’s colorful town manager for 31 years, died on Nov. 2 at Hibbard Nursing Home in Dover-Foxcroft at the age of 82. Family and friends will pay their respects from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Crosby & Neal Funeral Home in Guilford and services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Guilford United Methodist Church.
Goulette, who was on the Guilford Board of Selectmen, succeeded Littlefield when he retired in 2002.
“Bob struggled with the 21st century. No computer, no iPad, no PlayStation or Xbox, no smartphone, no cellphone, not even a touch-tone,” Goulette said. “He still maintained that you could always find your phone if it were affixed to the wall where you left it.”
State Rep. Paul Davis, who was a state trooper for 18 years, worked with Littlefield on many occasions.
“One time I recall a young man who had been drinking a little too much. He went down Main Street in Guilford and tipped over all the trash cans on the sidewalk,” Davis said. “I managed to find out who he was, so I gave him the choice of working for the town manager of Guilford or going to court. He chose to work for the town manager.”
Davis said that after the young offender was finished working for Littlefield, “I think he would much rather have gone to court. I must say, though, he was never in trouble again that I know of. I think Bob Littlefield’s justice served the young fellow well.”
Davis also remembered a time when a magazine was doing a story on Littlefield and he described to the writer a cost-saving sander.
“The sander that Bob liked dispensed the sand from the front and had a brush that picked it up and put it back into the body of the truck,” Davis said. “He felt that with such a sander, one load of sand would last all winter. Actually, he was making fun of the government and felt this is how the government would save money. Bob was always looking out for the taxpayer. He was a wonderful family man and had a special love for the town of Guilford.”
Greenville Town Manager John Simko recalled a story Littlefield told him about his role as the town’s welfare director. “A young man appeared in town and had stopped at the thrift store for some clothes prior to stopping to see Bob about money for a rent,” Simko said. “The clothes he picked out made him look like a cowboy, complete with hat. Bob remarked on this, and the young man said, ‘I always wanted to go to Cheyenne and ride the rodeo.’ Bob replied, ‘I can help you with that.’ For less money than the first month’s rent, he drove him to Bangor and bought him a one-way ticket to Cheyenne.”
Simko also said that Littlefield “was adamant that the Dover-Guilford road get fixed up, and he worked with me on the Moosehead Trail Corridor Committee to try to make this happen. After the road project was approved, I was asked to help make an excuse to get him out of the office for the morning so his surprise birthday party could be set up at the Masonic Lodge. So I made a fake committee meeting notice, calling for a special meeting at the same place and time as his retirement party.”
On the fake invitation, Simko indicated that because of the federal government’s interest in funding an east-west highway, “the feds would not fund the planned improvements to the Guilford-Dover Road. This sent Bob into orbit. He not only agreed to go to the meeting, but took me out on the road to take photos of the dips in the road, using a yardstick. People going to his party honked at he and I on the side of the road, measuring road ruts, with his giant four-door sedan attack vehicle parked on the side with its flashers going. We triumphantly went to the party.”
Tracy Lord, the Piscataquis County road agent and part-time law enforcement officer, said he met Littlefield about 30 years ago. “He was one of those people that if you saw him — you had to talk awhile, no matter what the subject. We talked sports and he would say ‘Remember the time we went to the game on the bus? You guys sure had fun,’” Lord said. “If people needed something, he would see what he could do. And you don’t see managers like him any more.”
Lord noted that Littlefield drove every vehicle in the town’s fleet, “loader, sand truck or trash. He loved it. He had some good men on the town crew that did their work too. Bob worked well for others but also others worked well for him. That says a lot about the man.”
Littlefield also served on the Guilford Fire Department for over 50 years, and Lord remembered that Littlefield would say “Speak to me” on the department’s radios “and we all knew who it was. There aren’t many Bob Littlefields left in our little world of Piscataquis County. It will be quite different with Bob’s passing.”
Goulette added that Littlefield’s legendary bursts of temper were always offset by “his heart of gold. He often stated that he could never have a heart attack because all who knew him said he had no heart. The truth was finally out when he received a pacemaker. There was officially a heart inside that remarkable physical specimen.”
Littlefield worked at a number of jobs over the years, including farmer, truck driver and at the Guilford Woolen Mill. In addition to being a firefighter, he was a longtime member of the South Sangerville Grange and the Guilford Kiwanis Club. He was a founding member of the Guilford Development Corp., which was responsible for developing the Senior Citizen housing at “Riverbend.” For many years Bob played Santa Claus for the local school children.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Patricia (Dorsey) Littlefield of Guilford; twin daughters Linda Marsh and husband, Lee of Guilford, and Julie Ramirez and husband, Michael of Olympia, Wash.; a son, David Littlefield and wife, Donna of Parkman; five grandchildren, five great grandchildren and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.