Stephen B. Coonrod, 71
Stephen B. “Steve” Coonrod, 71, of Bridgton, passed away peacefully on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, at the Maine Veterans' Home in Scarborough, after a long illness.
Steve was a quiet, kind, thoughtful man who had an intense love of animals and the natural world. He also loved mysteries, science, trains and naval history. He enjoyed solving problems by designing and building interesting structures and mechanisms. His nephew Steve remembers a fire tower, sun shelters, train sets and miniature ship models, while his niece Laura appreciates the handmade book, A Patient's Eye View of Dr. Laura Coonrod, made in retaliation for a bizarre Secret Santa gift she had given him the year before.
Steve was born in Cambridge, Mass., on March 13, 1945, the son of Lewis and Irene Tree Coonrod. After graduating from Lynnfield High School in 1962, he earned a B.A. in history from Northwestern University in Chicago. He served in the Coast Guard as Public Information Officer in Seattle for three years before moving to Orono, Maine, to pursue a Master's Degree in History.
In 1972 Steve went to work as a caseworker at the Maine Youth Center in South Portland (now Long Creek Youth Development Center). He truly loved the children he served while there, and later as a Juvenile Probation Officer in the Biddeford area. Greg, a friend and former co-worker remembers: "Steve taught me many valuable lessons about dealing with the kids and families which turned out to be life lessons. He cared about how others were doing and being. He didn't yell or preach or threaten — he spoke and guided and urged."
While at the Youth Center, he met Anne Bernard, his wife and partner for 38 years. The two enjoyed traveling together and took many trips across the United States and Canada in a van Steve outfitted as a fully-equipped camper.
An Associates Degree in Building Trades from what is now Southern Maine Community College in South Portland served him well when he retired from the Department of Corrections and took on the renovation of an old farmhouse in Sebago, helping Anne build and operate a perennials nursery there.
After moving to Bridgton in 2006, Steve enjoyed the serenity and wildlife of Stevens Brook and his maintenance and repair work at Good Neighbors, Inc. (now Morrison Center). He became well-known in Bridgton, easily recognized in his train engineer's cap, sometimes with a pencil behind his ear.
In addition to Anne, he leaves a brother, Warren and his wife Sharon, in Palm Coast, Fla.; a sister-in-law, Jane Coonrod, in Lynnfield, Mass.; and several nieces and nephews and their children. Steve was predeceased by his father in 1981, his mother in 2010, and his brother Douglas, who died on the same day, Feb. 13, in 1988.
A Celebration of Steve's life will be held later this year when the gardens are in bloom. Donations in his memory may be made to Harvest Hills Animal Shelter, 1389 Bridgton Rd., Fryeburg, ME 04037, or harvesthills.org