September 19, 2019
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Teacher, author, poet and journalist George Chappell dies at 82

File photo | Aroostook Republican & News
File photo | Aroostook Republican & News
The Aroostook Republican & News won first place for general excellence at the Maine Press Association’s 1992 fall conference in Bethel. Staff members marking the occasion at the time at the Caribou office are, sitting, Kevin Sjoberg, sports editor; and, standing from left, Marlene Durepo, classified sales; Biran Blanchard, ad sales representative; Brenda Ketch, community editor; Ray Stevenson, ad sales rep; Catherine Anderson, ad sales rep; and George Chappell, editor. Chappell died at age 82 on Feb. 21, 2019.

George Chappell, whose career brought him all over New England and included starting a newspaper in Massachusetts, serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, and working as editor of the Aroostook Republican newspaper in Caribou, died at age 82 on Feb. 21 at a residential care facility in Camden.

Born on Feb. 10, 1937, in Providence, Rhode Island, to George and Virginia (Hamm) Chappell, he first worked as a teacher before pursuing a career in journalism. His educational accomplishments include graduating from the University of Maine in 1968, and obtaining a master’s degree in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a master’s in poetry from Goddard College in Vermont.

While editing the Aroostook Republican in Caribou, Chappell worked with a small team, including sports writer Kevin Sjoberg, back in the late 80s and early 90s.

Sjoberg, who still writes for northern Maine weeklies and the Bangor Daily News today, said Chappell was an important mentor during his younger years in the business.

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
In 2015, George Chappell holds the book, "When Souls Walk Away," which he wrote with members of the Togus Writers' Group. Chappell died at age 82 on Feb. 21, 2019.

“He was very intelligent,” said Sjoberg, “and was a gifted writer who always provided guidance in my sportswriting, which was very much welcome in my early years.”

Chappell’s experience as a former athlete, which included winning the New England championship in the half-mile while attending Moses Brown School, a prep school in Providence, in 1955, his knowledge of sports, and his talents in writing were a great help to the novice sports journalist, Sjoberg recalled.

He said his favorite memory of Chappell is of a day when they were in the office after closing time and “for some reason,” started discussing former Red Sox outfielder Fred Lynn, who was named MVP and Rookie of the Year in 1975.

“George really liked him as a player and was wondering what he was doing and suggested we do some digging,” Sjoberg said.

Within a week, they had found his number, interviewed him in a conference call, and written a story for the newspaper.

“I always smile when I look back at that memory and many others we shared,” Sjoberg said. “We stayed in touch over the years and even after he left Aroostook. He was always very curious as to what was going on in the area.”

Chappell also worked as a reporter for the Bangor Daily News covering Knox County from 2007 to 2009.

He published three books of poems, and for years held a weekly writing class for veterans. Through his years, he gained countless friends and made a point to share his work at poetry readings around the state.

Chappell’s obituary, published in the Bangor Daily News, describes him as a “poet, teacher, storyteller, and voracious reader” who was “always trying to be a better human being and friend to people and nature.”

A memorial service and potluck reception is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist in Thomaston.

The obituary closes with a quote from his poem, “A Walk by Rockland Harbor:”

“Meanwhile, a light at the end of a long

Breakwater serves to guide mariners home.”

This story originally appeared on The County.



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