FAYETTE – Andrew Kimball Weegar, a well-known and respected Maine environmental journalist and naturalist, died April 19, 2005, as a result of injuries sustained in a farming accident at his home in Fayette. He was 41 years old. Andrew was born in 1963 in Portland. He was raised in the Bridgton area, where he developed his deep fascination and reverence for the natural world by exploring the wild places around his home and his many summers spent as a whitewater rafting guide. He graduated from Lake Region High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in Slavic languages from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and a master’s degree in Divinity from Harvard University, but he chose to return to Maine to work in and write about the place he loved. After college, he founded the Kimball Canoe Company and produced a number of handcrafted, traditional wood and canvas canoes, one of which still hangs in L.L. Bean’s Freeport headquarters. For the last seven years, Andrew served as associate director for the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources – a national non-profit that sponsors educational, field-based fellowships for journalists – where he organized and led programs in the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, Alaska, as well as New England. He worked with reporters from more than 250 newsrooms from both Maine and across the country, including Portland Press Herald, The Bangor Daily News, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, the Wall St. Journal, National Public Radio and CNN, establishing his national reputation in environmental journalism circles. He is best known locally from his work at the Maine Times, where he was a staff writer from 1992 to 1997. During that time, he covered Maine agriculture, fisheries and forestry issues with eloquence and insight. He was fiercely proud of his tenure at the paper and the impact this once-pioneering instrument of alternative journalism had on public policy, and his contributions in this area were substantial. It was not uncommon, however, to see him settling down at his computer with a giant cup of coffee for an all-nighter to meet a deadline, when his colleagues were heading home for the day. A true naturalist and environmentalist, he was devoted to preserving Maine’s working rural landscape, which he saw as being under significant threat. As a farmer, he loved minor species, such as Scottish Highland cattle, Belted Galloways and Black English pigs. A self-taught forester, he often preferred to harvest timber off his own woodlot for many of his woodworking projects. Andrew was a master in reproducing 18th-century American furniture, using the tools, methods and materials authentic to the period. One of his most notable pieces was a chest of drawers that he presented – nearly finished – to his wife, Abby, on their wedding day. He also possessed extensive knowledge of 18th- and 19th-century American architecture and design. He saved a number of historic Maine structures from the wrecking ball – four of them dating to the 18th century – by carefully dismantling the buildings and labeling the parts for reconstruction. At the time of his death, he was in the process of accurately restoring a timber-framed Yankee barn built in 1840, an English barn dating to 1800, as well as a complex of buildings dating to 1820. He also had plans to rebuild a circa-1835 historic ship captain’s house on Hospital Island in Passamaquoddy Bay in New Brunswick. Matters of intellectual and philosophical study intrigued him as much as the practical arts. He was working on a book about the significance of the white pine in the shaping of American culture, one concerning 18th-century architecture and furniture, as well as a study of the American eel, which he considered to be one of the most fascinating and under-appreciated animals on earth. And, according to his family, there was even a children’s book in the works about a veterinarian who travels from island to island in Maine. All talents and accomplishments aside, Andrew was most at home traipsing around bogs, exploring riverbanks from one his handcrafted (and not always finished) canoes, working his land and sharing his passions with his daughter, Molly, teaching her about the natural world and instilling in her a fascination and sense of stewardship for the landscape and wildlife of Maine. It was not unusual for Andrew, a registered Maine Guide, to carry a dead bird or rodent skull around in the pocket of his trademark wool trousers or a bit of roadkill in the back of his truck. He trapped, fished and hunted, and there wasn’t an animal he wouldn’t eat, including porcupine, squirrel, snapping turtle and, recently, a sparrow. His friends and family lived under the constant threat of being offered something from his “stewpot.” Andrew Weegar found joy in things most of us don’t bother to notice, and he had the keen naturalist’s eye to observe the things most of us fail to see. His gift was the way in which he so generously shared all he discovered with others. Above all, he was a great man and a loving husband and father. His was a bright, brief star, and he will missed by all who knew him. In addition to his wife, Abigail Mildred Holman, and their daughter, Maura Libbey Weegar, Andrew is survived by his parents, Nancy and Richard Weegar of Mount Vernon; his siblings, Paul R. Weegar of Reno, Nev., Susan Haynes of Canton, Elizabeth Therriault of West Paris, Matthew Holmes Weegar of Tamworth, N.H.; many nieces and nephews. Visiting hours will be held 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at the Weegar/Holman home. A memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, April 25, at the North Fayette Church, Fayette. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Maura Weegar College Trust. Checks may be sent to: Maura Weegar College Trust, 248 North Road, Fayette, ME 04349. Arrangements are in the care of Roberts Funeral Home, 62 Bowdoin St., Winthrop, Maine www.khrfuneralhomes.com
ANDREW KIMBALL WEEGAR
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