BANGOR, Maine — A Hermon man who was as well-known for his business acumen as he was for his philanthropy and community service died Friday at a Florida hospital.
Harold O. Bouchard, founder of Hampden-based H.O. Bouchard Inc., was 77 at the time of his death, his son, Brian Bouchard, said Sunday. Bouchard and his wife, Evelyn, were at their winter home in Palm Beach Gardens when Bouchard died, his son said.
Bouchard was the seventh of 16 children born to Edmund and Lucienne Bouchard of Soldier Pond, who had a potato farm and cut wood to tide the family over when potato prices were low, according to a profile from the Bangor Daily News archives.
In 1958, Bouchard headed south to Bangor with a single dump truck he bought with a small loan and went on to launch a business that today specializes in on- and off-road heavy hauling. H.O. Bouchard today is 100 trucks strong and employs 175 people, according to Brian Bouchard, who now runs the company.
In 1991, Bouchard spun off the logging side of his business to form Comstock Woodlands. The Golden Road-based enterprise was named the Forest Resource Association’s Northeast Region Logger of the Year for 2012.
On Sunday, friends remembered Bouchard as a man who never forgot where he came from, who helped him along the way and the importance of helping others.
“Harold was always something of a role model to me. He was always someone that I looked up to,” said Edward Dysart, whose father, David Dysart, founded the Dysart family’s truck stop and transportation business. “He had this unbelievable work ethic that the average person couldn’t even imagine. Everything he did was done absolutely at a dead run.
“When you met him, you didn’t forget him. He had this great sense of humor. That’s what I’ll miss the most about him — his personality,” Dysart said.
Michael Crowley, president of the EMHS Foundation, met Bouchard through fundraising efforts aimed at bringing state-of-the-art cancer treatment to Eastern Maine Medical Center. EMMC’s Lafayette Family Cancer Center named its infusion room the “Harold O. Bouchard Family Living Room” in honor of his part in raising funds for the $13 million facility.
Crowley said that when he was diagnosed with cancer, Bouchard was an inspiration.
“I was preparing for a journey that I never could have anticipated in hindsight. I was getting ready for surgery and he called and said he wanted to see me,” Crowley said. “It was like having my pastor, counselor, father and grandfather all rolled into one. It was an amazing hour of his time, completely unsolicited. When he left, he said, ‘Just remember — you’re gonna beat this.’ I really drew a lot from that. He did that for so many people.”
Brad Coffey, vice president for EMHS Foundation, said that as someone who had cancer at several different times, Bouchard was focused on help others access top-notch care locally.
“He was humble, down to earth and humorous, very religious, hard working and very good at solving problems,” he said. “I feel like I learned so much from Harold [by witnessing] how hard he worked and how well he treated people. He was one of a kind. I know that’s a cliche but for him, it’s appropriate.”
Deborah Carey Johnson, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Medical Center, said Bouchard leaves a legacy of leadership that will benefit many in the region. She said he not only gave generously but convinced others to do the same. He also was a friend.
“I loved Harold. I’m going to miss him terribly,” she said, adding that his death was a shock.
A founding member of the American Loggers Council and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, Bouchard also was involved with the Maine Forest Products Council, the Forest Resource Association, the Maine Motor Transportation Association, the Maine Better Transportation Association, Associated General Contractors of Maine and the Northeast Loggers Association, which in 1991 named him Outstanding Logger of the Year.
He was named the Hampden Business Association’s 2001 Person of the Year and in 2003, received the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce’s Norbert X. Dowd Award for his contributions to his industry and for his community service.
Bouchard was predeceased by his parents, three brothers, two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law and several aunts and uncles. Survivors include his wife, Evelyn, son Brian and Brian’s wife, Libbie, of Hampden, daughters Brenda Bouchard of Hampden and Christine Bouchard and her partner Marlene Myslinski of Bangor, two stepchildren, five siblings and several grandchildren, step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren and several aunts.
A memorial Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at St.John’s Catholic Church in Bangor.