Dick Krasker gives back to his community

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

A TRUE CONTRIBUTOR TO HIS COMMUNITY — Dick Krasker, with his wife, Sandy, along with their poodle, Lady Jane, at their home in Fryeburg. (Ackley Photo)

FRYEBURG — Dick Krasker doesn’t consider what he has done for his community to be out of the ordinary — let alone extraordinary.

Yet, his contributions to Fryeburg do stand out — so much so, that the town’s 139th annual report was dedicated to him.

It reads: “This year’s town report is dedicated to Richard Krasker, a resident who believes strongly in giving back to his community…Thank you, Dick for your hard work and dedication to the Town!”

Dick Krasker said many other citizens of Fryeburg — past and present — could have been singled out, as well, for their selfless donations to their fellow residents. He seems somewhat uncomfortable with the distinction the town bestowed upon him, yet grateful.

“What I’m doing is merely following a path and a tradition that has been established by hundreds of people in Fryeburg who give back to the community to enhance the quality of life, especially those who volunteer for Fire and Rescue,” Krasker said Monday.

Dick’s parents, Abraham and Gertrude Rothstein Krasker, were first generation Americans, Abraham having come from Russia and Gertrude from Poland. Abraham Krasker earned a doctorate degree and was a pioneer in audio-visual education at Boston University where they named the Krasker Media Center in his honor.

“They came to this country as babies in the 1900s and lived in Boston,” said Dick.

Abraham and Gertrude Krasker, who ironically met at a camp in Massachusetts, founded two youth camps in Fryeburg in the 1920s — Indian Acres in 1924 and Forest Acres in 1928.

“My parents ran a camp in Massachusetts and decided they’d like to do it,” said Dick. “My father had a student whose uncle owned a farm in Fryeburg that he wanted to sell.”

So, in the spring of 1924, the Kraskers purchased the expansive farm property along the Saco River from Fred Kenerson where Indian Acres and Forest Acres still operate today.

“They ran the camps, for 40 years,” Dick, who is now 74 years old, said of his late parents.

Dick Krasker was director of both Forest Acres and Indian Acres, from the 1960s until his retirement in 1999. He also served for many years as the president of the Maine Camp Directors’ Association.

“Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful people from Fryeburg who built the camps and worked with us,” said Dick.

However, it is Dick’s tireless fundraising efforts, on behalf of his fellow Fryeburg citizens, that make him a shining example to all of the phrase, “It is better to give than to receive.”

“I learned it from my parents, who both felt they had an obligation to make a difference,” Dick said. “They grew up with the feeling they had to give back and they instilled that in us. It makes you feel good, if you can do something to make things better in your time on earth. I’ve always felt the need to give back — that’s how I’ve always operated. When I retired, I felt I had the time to do things for the town. I accidentally got into fundraising!”

Well, accidentally or not, Dick Krasker’s fundraising efforts have raised almost $300,000 for various projects and activities in Fryeburg, over the years.

Those efforts do not include the 37 acres of conservation land along Bog Pond Road that he and his family recently donated to the Town of Fryeburg, so as to avoid a penalty in the range of $300,000 the town would have been assessed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for environmental impacts at its Haleytown Road reconstruction project.

Dick’s efforts to help his community range from raising funds for the local library to the extended fundraising he has done to ensure the town had all the information it needed when Nestlé´s Poland Spring bottling company first proposed to draw large amounts of water from the Ward’s Brook Aquifer, as well as future monitoring of the aquifer’s sustainability.

“I started fundraising with the (Fryeburg Public) Library, when they needed to replace some chairs and then later updated their computer system,” stated Dick. “Along with (the late) Kevin Muse, I became a founding member of the Fryeburg Aquifer Resource Committee (FARC) which raised money for the planning board so it could have information on which to make a decision (about Poland Spring’s proposal).”

“We first raised $50,000 in donations to show us how much water we had and how much could be used on a daily basis,” stated Dick. “Then, we raised another $50,000 to assure the public that no harm was being done to the surrounding ecosystem — and the answer to that question was, ‘Yes, there was no harm being done.’”

Dick was also instrumental in helping to form the Fryeburg Water District and serves as its president. The Fryebug Water District was created by an act of the Maine Legislature sponsored by former State Representative Roberta Muse (R-Fryeburg). Another $80,000 was raised, according to Dick, “to give the town some form of independent monitoring of Ward’s Brook,” as well as $30,000 to establish a trust fund for future monitoring.

“All of this money came from independent foundations and was supported fully by Poland Spring,” Dick said. “And Poland Spring reimburses the town for the cost, fully. They’ve been very cooperative.”

“The result of this is the town is in control and can manage its water resources, because all of these people have agreed to abide by what (Engineer Peter Garrett) says is sustainable,” said Dick.

His fundraising efforts led Dick to the University of Southern Maine Philanthropy Center where he obtained the names of 80 corporations and foundations from which to seek funds.

Dick’s wife, Sandy, feels her husband being singled out for his efforts to help the town is well deserved.

“Dick spent a lot of time on the telephone calling everyone — people he knows from camp, college and graduate school,” said Sandy. “I think the dedication in the annual town report is a great thing.”

Dick helped found the Fryeburg Business Association a couple of years ago, and today is very active in fundraising efforts on behalf of the Pequawket Kids’ Association (PKA), an after school enrichment program for children who live within the seven towns of School Administrative District 72.

Asked why he didn’t just want to sit back and enjoy his retirement in a leisurely manner, Dick replied, “I’m a people person, and I enjoy being involved. I like sharing ideas. Fryeburg is a wonderful community. There are a lot of people who have done a lot of good things here. I think the water issue was important, and if I can give these kids (through the PKA) some help — I worked with kids, for 40 years.”

As to giving back over and over again, Dick said, “It’s a tradition that people follow — it’s what makes Fryeburg such a great place to be.”

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