A renowned storyteller and community supporter with a commanding voice who spent 18 years as a pastor in Brooks, Freedom, Monroe, Frankfort and and later Jackson, has died.

Surrounded by his wife of 59 years, Janet, and four children, the Rev. Charles "Charlie" James Heslam III, died at his home in Northfield, N.H., Saturday, Aug. 15, at age 82.

In a conversation with The Republican Journal Journal Aug. 17, Janet said it was a gift to have the entire family come home to be by his side and that he died peacefully.

After living in Brooks for almost 20 years from 1971 through 1990, Janet estimates Charlie married well over 300 people in the area. “We would always run into people (Charlie had married) when coming into Belfast,” she said. Something about his presence, she said, was large, “He occupied a lot of space.”

According to Janet, Charlie always had a story to tell and after an encounter, people had a story about him. “He would love to tell stories and would love to get involved with people,” she said.

After a three-week camping trip with his kids in the '70s, Charlie came back sporting a beard and, according to Janet, never shaved it off. A 1979 Republican Journal article described him as the “hippie minister” with his hair a little on the long side and his casual dress.

“I do what I feel is right with only a slight regard of what people think a minister should be,” he said in the Journal interview from ‘79. The article went on to say he was an “aggressive leader, a champion of sometimes unpopular causes and always unabashedly outspoken.”

Brooks Selectman Linda Lord said he was instrumental in bringing Moosehead Trail Village, a low-income housing facility, to town. He was also the driving force behind the Arthur Jewell Community Health Center in Brooks, for which he received the Roselle W. Huddilston Medal in 1980 for outstanding service in making the facility a reality.

“He was pretty amazing,” she said.

Lord said Charlie attended all of his children’s sports events and was their biggest cheerleader. “If the refs made a bad call, he would let them know,” she said. “He had a beautiful speaking voice, and if he had a problem, everybody knew it. He was a person that could talk to anybody.”

In speaking about Charlie’s enthusiasm at the sports events, Janet said though he was never rude, he let his opinions be known.

Terrell C. Whitney, a former referee and friend, said he always knew where Charlie was sitting because of his “large, boisterous voice that could be heard above the crowd.”

“He was a wonderful man,” he added, and while he did not remember ever giving Charlie a technical for his behavior, “because he knew me well, he would holler at me while officiating.

“A technical I don't believe ever happened,” he said, “although Janet may have thought he deserved one.  In fact, I'm not sure she would sit next to him during a game.”

Whitney recalled one game at Camden when Charlie’s son David was playing. “Charlie started to give me a little personal heat from the stands and as I ran by,” he said. “I just waved to him up in the crowd and everyone got a good laugh.”

Charlie was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1938. After high school he attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute for two and a half years with a major in electrical engineering. He later attended Fitchburg State College and Bangor Theological Seminary, and served as a student pastor in Cherryfield.

After graduating from the seminary, he accepted the position of associate pastor of the United Church of Christ in Cincinnati, and earned a degree in history from Wright State University.

In 1971 he and his family moved to Brooks, where Charlie served as the first full-time pastor of the Waldo County Cooperative Ministry, encompassing five towns.

In addition to his clerical duties, he served on the Brooks Planning Board for five years, holding the title of chairman for three. He was the founding director of the Belfast Area Children’s Center in Waldo, on the advisory committee for the Senior Citizens Hot Meals Program in Belfast, a member of the Brooks Booster Club, served as the Brooks Little League Farm Team coach, was chairman of the board of directors of Waldo County General Hospital and also chairman of the Arthur Jewell Community Health Center.

After a combined 42-year career as minister, Charlie retired in 2004 to New Hampshire. After his retirement, Charlie enjoyed traveling — especially to visit his children and grandchildren, in whom he took great pride.

Janet said Charlie will be remembered for his stories, his commitment to the community and his huge work ethic.