When Michael Aube, the recently retired president of Eastern Maine Department Corporation, was first offered that job back in 1981, he recalled asking the hiring committee where he should go out for lunch in Bangor that day.
“They gave me a list of restaurants, and said, ‘It’s in alphabetical order, so it starts with Burger King, but we haven’t updated it and we have an Arby’s now,’” said Aube, who retired last year from EMDC after two stints as its president (1981-92 and 2009-18).
Aube, who last night was honored with the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce’s Norbert X. Dowd Award, the chamber’s lifetime achievement award, remembered driving back to Massachusetts that night with his wife, Marian. She made it clear she was unconvinced about the move to Bangor. He stopped at a payphone to call the head of the hiring committee and tell him he did not want the job.
“The payphone was broken. I was never able to make the call,” Aube said. “That night, we talked it over, and we decided we’d give it a shot after all … but if that phone was working our lives would have been incredibly different.”
Nearly 40 years later, and the alphabetical list of restaurants in Bangor hits Chinese, Pakistani, Italian and brewpub-style restaurants before it even gets through the B’s. And Aube, who still lives in Bangor, played a major part in downtown Bangor’s transformation, in making Bangor a better place to live and work, and in the overall economic vitality of eastern Maine as a whole.
Aube, now 68, was born in Biddeford and raised in Saco, attending Thornton Academy and, later, Boston College. Upon graduating from BC in 1972, he taught at Governor Fairfield Academy in Saco for a year before taking a job working for George Mitchell’s 1974 gubernatorial campaign in Maine. After Mitchell lost that race, Aube went to Washington, D.C., where he worked for Sen. Edmund Muskie until 1981, when he moved to Bangor.
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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