Eugene S. Willman, 86

 

Eugene Willman

Eugene Willman

SCARBOROUGH — Eugene Stevens Willman, 86, of Yarmouth passed away on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, at the Gosnell Hospice Home in Scarborough with his family by his side.

Gene was born on Sept. 23, 1929, in Portland, the son of E. Earl and Mildred Stevens Willman. He attended local schools and graduated from Deering High School. His love of photography began early when he purchased his first camera with paper route money, an Ansco Brownie camera, which he used as staff photographer for Deering’s yearbook. After graduating from high school, he made the choice to serve his country in the United States Navy, where he served four years serving on the U.S.S Mount Olympus and attended the Pensacola Naval School of Photography in Florida. He served as the Admiral’s personal photographer while spending time in Greenland, Panama and other ports of interest.

When Gene left the military, he reconnected with high school friend and soon to be wife, Carol Duplessie. They were married in 1955, built their home where together they raised their daughter Barbara. Gene, Carol and Barbara made memories that would never be forgotten while they took family vacations together, gathered with extended family for Sunday dinners and family cookouts, enjoyed their love of music together, swam at Crystal Lake and spent time at their beloved family beach house at Higgins Beach.

When Gene began his civilian career, he started at the Portland Press Herald before being asked to help organize the newly-formed WGAN (now known as WGME), where he served as the chief photographer for 19 years. In 1973, Gene accepted a full-time position with United Press International managing the State of Maine and a few years later he was managing Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. During this time, he was well known for teaching and mentoring the young photographers, also known as stringers, who were so eager to learn from a legend.

During his many years with the news media he was privileged enough to photograph many dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Emperor Hiro Hito, and every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush. As a member of the press corp, he was honored with traveling with President George W. Bush on “Air Force One.”

In 1988, he left the news media and along with longtime colleague, Don Johnson, formed Willman & Johnson Associates located in South Portland and Falmouth. Even after retirement it was tough to find Gene without a camera strapped around his neck. He also loved to garden, study genealogy and work on computers. His favorite retirement pastime was spending time with his wife, daughter, grandson and his wife, and great-granddaughter. Gene was also a co-founding member of a professional group, lovingly known as “The Geezers Group,” consisting of many members of the media, past and present, which still exists today.

He is survived by his wife, Carol of Yarmouth; a daughter, Barbara Johnson of Bath; a grandson; a great-granddaughter; a half-brother, Charlie Willman of Texas; a half-sister, Cindy Iorizzo of Denmark; as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins.

Gene’s life was celebrated with family and friends sharing stories on Tuesday, April 5 at Lindquist Funeral Home, 1 Mayberry Lane, Yarmouth. A celebration of life was held on Wednesday, April 6 at 11 a.m. at Lindquist Funeral Home. Committal was private at Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. To share stories about Gene and to see a photo story of his life please visit www.lindquistfuneralhome.com

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Hawthorne House in Freeport or Gosnell Hospice Home in Scarborough.

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