Samuel ‘Bud’ Lee Pitts Jr., 86

Samuel 'Bud' Lee Pitts Jr.

Samuel 'Bud' Lee Pitts Jr.

HARRISON — Samuel (Bud) Lee Pitts Jr. (Mr. Oak), 86, passed away at his home in Harrison on Memorial Day, May 27, 2013, with his daughter by his side.

A lifelong resident of Harrison, he was born July 23, 1926, in North Bridgton, the son of Samuel Lee and Fannie Fae Witter Pitts. He attended grade school in Harrison, and was a 1944 graduate of Bridgton Academy. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1945, and served two years, most of it in Agana Guam.

He married Emma Hobbs, of Norway, in Bethel on April 30, 1948. They had three daughters.

Sam had many jobs over his lifetime. He ran his father’s portable saw mill and was manager for Ben Cohen’s lumber mill in Norway, after which he was manager and timber buyer for Wilner’s Wood Heel Products. He trained race horses at Yonkers Raceway in N.Y., taking his family to winter training in Fla. for three years. He was co-owner of Vacationland Campsites on Crystal Lake in Harrison with his brother Russell and sister, Virginia. He ran the campsite from 1960–1971 when it was sold. In the winter of 1969 he groomed trails on the campsite property and up Hawk Mountain and opened Vacationland Ski-Mobile Area. In the early 70s he began making and selling pine furniture. He opened a shop in the Harrison block, selling his furniture. He held Saturday night dances in the store that winter, great memories for many.

Sam married Irma Maxfield Hibbard on April 29, 1978, in their Victorian home on Main Street in Harrison. Sam converted the attached barn into a workshop and showroom and began refinishing and selling oak furniture, hence the name of his business, “Mr. Oak’s,” which he ran until 2005, when he retired at age 79. He was well-known as a major dealer in New England, shipping his furniture all over the country.

In 1987 Sam and Irma’s daughter Martha and her husband, Russ Merrill built Maxfield Common on Front Street in Harrison. They ran it as a business complex and in 1990 sold it to the town of Harrison to be used as their town office.

Sam took great pride in the Harrison of his youth and in the Harrison of today. He had an amazing memory for names, dates and events. When he retired he wrote stories of his youth, capturing what it was like for his generation to grow up in Harrison. He videotaped all the houses in Harrison village, narrating who owned each house in the 50s and 60s and telling a story or two along the way. Sam was a diehard Red Sox fan, posting daily who the Sox would be playing on the front of his porch. He attended many games with his daughter Judy.

He was never happier than when his family would come for Old Home Days, Christmas in Harrison, or just to come to play and swim at Crystal Lake Park. Fireworks on his back porch were a yearly family tradition. Together he and his daughter Donna wrote the history of the Pitts family of Harrison.

For two generations of families a visit to Mr. Oak’s to see his Christmas decorations were a tradition. Sam’s last wish was to see the gazebo in Crystal Lake Park finished. In 2005 he had given a generous donation in hopes of seeing it built in order to bring summer concerts to the park. Unfortunately monies ran out and the gazebo was never completed. When the community was made aware donations came in and his grandson Justin McIver completed construction on the gazebo. The first concert in honor of Sam was held on May 5th, thanks to local musicians who made it happen. He was there to see and hear it all.

He is survived by his daughters, Donna Barker and husband David, Judy McIver and partner Steve Pepin, stepdaughter Martha Merrill and husband Russell; grandchildren, Jonathan Barker and wife Rachel, Ryan McIver and wife Jamie, Justin McIver and partner Bernadette Fuller, Jennifer Ward McMorris and husband Ken, Sarah Ward Hart and husband Chris, Lindsey Ward Seavey and husband Jared, Sam Merrill and wife Alice, Meredith Merrill Frost and husband Seth and ten great-grandchildren.

Bud was predeceased by his parents Samuel and Frances Pitts, his wife Irma, his brother Russell, sister Virginia, and his daughter Katherine Patricia Pitts.

Family and friends are invited to attend funeral services on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 11  A.M.  at the United Parish UCC of Harrison and North Bridgton Church in Harrison. Interment will be at the Harrison Village Cemetery, Front St., Harrison. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gazebo Project c/o Harrison Town Office, P.O. Box 300, Harrison, ME 04040, to help pay all those in the past who donated time and materials and to help pay current construction costs. Arrangements under the care of Oxford Hills and Weston Funeral Services, 1037 Main St., Oxford, Maine. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.oxfordhillsfuneralservices.com

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