James 'Skip' Pendleton

Sep 26, 2017

James Francis Pendleton (known as “Skip”) passed away Sept. 24, 2017, in his home in Belfast at the age of 84 after a six-year battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his five children and Jo, his beloved wife of 65 years.

Skip was born to a Belfast family. He was the great-grandson of the sea captain James Watson Pendleton and grandson of long-time Chief of Police and Fire Chief Frances Xavier Pendleton. His parents Basil and Hedwidge (Dumais) Pendleton, owned Pendleton’s Ice Cream Parlor which was located on Pendleton Lane, named in recognition of his grandfather’s years of service to the community.

Skip’s wide and varied interests encompassed a love for the natural world, great literature, the arts and music. He was truly a renaissance man and he never did anything halfway. He spent many evenings reading poetry, philosophy and literature, most recently, Melville, Shakespeare, Neitzche, and his favorite poet, Robinson Jeffers. He also had an avid interest in music, ranging from classical, opera and jazz to any local music he could dance to. Skip and his wife had subscriptions to Bangor Symphony Orchestra for many years. In addition, his strong sense of duty led him to exemplary, dedicated service in numerous organizations. In the 1960s and 70s, he served as a Cub Scout master and, for several terms, a Belfast school district board member. His interest in the arts led to active involvement in the founding years of the Belfast Maskers, when he was enticed onto the stage. His keen interest in supporting healthy lifestyles led to his leadership as president of the board of the Belfast Co-op.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he took up an interest in sailing with his typical zeal, starting with a the small Rhodes 19 that he and Jo spent weeks cruising on among the Maine islands for their summer vacations. He served as commodore of Northport Yacht Club and in 1983 undertook a trans-Atlantic crossing from Belfast to Cork, Ireland, in a 38-foot sloop with a crew of four — a friend, his friend's daughter and his own 17-year-old daughter, Brianna. During this time he was also maintaining the midsection of Maine's Appalachian Trail as an Overseer, and helping to construct a rope tow and trails for the Belfast ski slope, which led to the creation of a Belfast Area High School ski team in the 1970s. Skip fell in love with skiing and it was not unusual for him to drive three hours, each way, for a day of skiing in northern Maine.

In 1998, Skip was supervisor and on the verge of retirement from CMP, after 45 years of service for which he was honored as their longest-serving employee. When the ice storm hit, he — like many other employees — didn’t come home for days as he labored to ensure power was restored to thousands of homes.

After retirement, Skip returned to Europe with his wife. They traveled to Wales, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Skip also re-engaged in his long-time recreational interest in bicycling. This hobby began in the 1960s when he rode his bike to work every day, long before the bike craze made it “normal” for grownups to be on bicycles. In his late 60s and early 70s, he kept riding his bike, not just over the bridge to work, but across the country twice and across Labrador and throughout Newfoundland, bicycling 15,000 miles in one year. He sought ways to share this passion with the community, helping the Maine Bicycle Coalition coordinate bicycle commuting to Common Ground Country Fair. He became a member of Belfast mobility committee, which created bicycle lanes in Belfast and ensured better sidewalks for pedestrians.

Skip discovered kayaking in these later years as well and didn’t let his age hold him back from entering white water and learning the kayak roll. He was eager to share this enthusiasm with others, equally keen to get into the river with paddle in hand and for many years, served as river sweep for the YMCA's two annual spring races on the St. George and Passy. He was an active member of the Penobscot Paddle & Chowder Society and the Downeast Outing Club.

But most of Skip’s focus in his last two decades was on building and maintaining trails and bridges in and around the Belfast area. He organized the crews for creating and maintaining the trails and footbridges, and worked on them daily on his own time. Skip was never shy about leaving the woods to advocate as needed, speaking up frequently at City Council meetings to ensure access for all and growing into leadership roles within organizations dedicated to trail-blazing. He was one of the founders of and first president of  Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition. As the long time trail chief Skip recruited many volunteers to help make these beautiful lands accessible to the public. His work over the years created hundreds of miles of trails, resulting in the creation of Little River Community Trail, ski paths to and from it, trails on the many Coastal Mountains Land Trust preserves in Belfast, Northport, Searsport and some in Camden, and recently the Hills to Sea Trail. In all weather, Skip was out there, building bridges over wet sections, putting up signage and clearing trails of fallen branches.

Now and for years to come, countless community members will enjoy the results of Skip's dedication as they follow his blue blazes along the Little River Trails, the banks of a secluded pond or up a rugged hillside. As Skip was known to say, he wants us all to get out there and experience the “real world. “

They say that behind every great man there is a woman. In Skip's case, his wife of 65 years has not only been behind him sharing his ideas and his zest for life, but she has been side by side, his partner and collaborator.

Skip is predeceased by his sister Yvonne Lessard and is survived by his children, Tom and husband Ken Wilson of Putnam Valley, N.Y.; Bindy and husband Tom Maycock of Belfast; Denise and husband John Lightner of Belfast; Andrew and Janaki of Kauia, Hawaii; Brianna (a.ka. Sally) Pendleton and husband Eduardo Luna of Annapolis, Md.; grandchildren, Abigail and Lila Maycock; Babette, Cy, and Rosemary Pendleton-McGeady, and Audrey and Luke Lightner, as well as several nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to thank the many friends and caregivers who generously supported the family during Skip’s illness. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition and WERU. A celebration of Skip’s life, which is sure to include dancing, will be held later this year, with date and location to be decided.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Jon Jenckes | Sep 28, 2017 20:22

As a 15 year old member of the Belfast Merchants baseball club some how I reached 2nd base/ Skip came over and talked with me/ I remember that kindness and sorry to say was never able to tell Skip how much that meant to me/ that was at Mossman park/ 62 yrs have passed and that incident is still clear as a bell.



Posted by: JEAN LENDERKING | Sep 26, 2017 19:05

Skip and his family have contributed so much to our community.   and, we are so blessed to have him.   thank you, Skip!   Jean & Mike Lenderking

 



Posted by: Joel Krueger | Sep 26, 2017 16:48

Amazing man, incredible life.  I did not know him.  But my life is better because of him.  Thank you , Skip.

Rev. Kate Winters, The First Church, UCC

 



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