Remembering Abe Parker

By Allen Crabtree
Special to The News

SEBAGO — It is a rare person who can, just by their presence, touch an entire community and leave a lasting impression.

Abe Parker had that gift, and with his passing (Oct. 26), the entire community of Sebago feels the loss.

In our small town, Abe Parker knew just about everyone, and nearly everyone knew Abe in one way or another. For many, their relationship was a lifetime long. His roots in Sebago went back many generations.

WORKS CREW — Sebago Department of Public Works winning team in the first American Public Works Association “Public Works Excellence” award competition (about 1988). Shown are (right to left) Road Commissioner Abe Parker, Carl Dolloff, Ralph Brown, Tommy Watson and Steve Douglas.

Neighbors and friends knew Abe as a hard worker who would go out of his way to help anyone in need.  The list of people in town whom he had befriended was long.

Abe put a high value on honesty and trust, and underneath his sometimes gruff exterior he was a sensitive soul. Abe felt a strong kinship to Sebago and spent his 68 years giving back to his hometown and to his neighbors. He served as Sebago selectman and road commissioner, town constable and animal control officer, drove the town ambulance, was on the fire department, worked as fire police, and was a charter member of the Sebago Lions Club. He played a key role in developing the town beach, the town ball fields and worked on service projects at the school and library. He helped the fire department build several fire trucks at the town garage, back when the only trucks the town owned were the ones they made themselves.

When he was road commissioner, the town won the first American Public Works Association “Public Works Excellence” award competition for work his crew did on Taylor Road. Abe was the moving force behind building the town garage. He also gave a couple of young men their first job working on the town road crew. Carl Dolloff remembers how much he enjoyed working with Abe and how he looked up to him.

“Abe hired me as a 16-year-old kid,” Alan Greene remembered. “He sized me up and I guess he figured I was okay, because he turned me loose on a backhoe and told me the best way to learn how to operate it was to just do it! I’ve never forgotten the trust he showed in me.”

Abe enlisted in the Air Force from Potter Academy and was proud of his 20 years in the service. He didn’t like to blow his own horn and couldn’t understand all the fuss made about a heroic deed that earned him the Airman’s Medal. He saw a fuel truck catch fire and, disregarding his own risk, drove it away from hangars at Andrews Air Force Base. His action avoided casualties when the truck exploded in a ball of flame.

He tended to be impatient and was a firm believer in action instead of idle talk when he saw things that needed doing. When only one person was laboring on renovations to the Warming Hut this summer, unbidden Abe volunteered countless hours helping to lay cement blocks, mix cement, and the myriad other tasks that needed doing to bring this dream to improve the lives of Sebago’s citizens to reality.

When he felt that things were not right, Abe wasn’t shy about letting people know how he felt. Abe was quick to lecture his fellow selectmen when he saw

SERVING HIS COUNTRY — A1C Abe Parker receiving the Airman’s Medal for heroism involved in a fuel truck fire at Andrews Air Force Base.

that they weren’t doing their share to help on the Warming Hut project.

“Why aren’t you people down there helping?” Abe said. “You could at least drop in and see if anyone could use a cup of coffee or something!”

A spot near and dear to his heart was Douglas Mountain, and in the last few months, he formed a committee to improve the trails and repair the stone tower on the mountain. Abe’s sister, Diana Letellier, worked with him on the Douglas Mountain project.

“He loved this town,” Diana said. “He could fix anything on the farm and was particularly proud that he had cleared the fields around his house on Decker Mountain, pushing back the woods to be like it used to be when we would work up there as kids haying.”

Abe worked hard at being an effective selectman “learning new tricks” and dealing with the often complex problems that the town faces. When the town recently won a grant to weatherize homes of the elderly in Sebago, Abe was leading the effort to identify homes and plan projects. He was very proud of the new roof that he had been instrumental in recently installing on the home of one of our elderly citizens and was looking forward to identifying more projects.

Abe had a lot to offer with his experience, skills and lifetime of knowledge about Sebago. The town has lost a good neighbor and friend with Abe’s passing and we will all miss him.

At an informal gathering at the Sebago Church of the Nazarene the night after Abe’s death, Pastor Jim Ledoux said, “Abe wouldn’t want us to waste any time anguishing about his death. He’s with God now, and the two of them will sort things out. Abe would just want us to get on with our lives.”

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