BANGOR - Thomas B. Kurth, 75, a retired city planner and lifelong public servant, died of cancer Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at his home, surrounded by family and holding the hand of his beloved wife.
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He was born Aug. 12, 1938, in Minnesota and grew up there. After college, he taught junior high school for two years before enlisting in the Peace Corps to satisfy twin needs of helping others and seeing the world. Stationed in Liberia, he helped an abandoned leper colony become self-sufficient. He met another volunteer, Anita Herold, and they married in Liberia in 1965. Tom then worked for the international aid organization CARE, serving in the former Yugoslavia and Philippines before returning for a tour in Liberia.
His commitment to public service and improving the world continued after the family moved to Bangor in 1970. He worked for regional planning agencies and concluded his career as Brewer city planner, where he oversaw the development of pocket parks, remediation of polluted areas and other improvements.
He was passionate about the arts, nature and his family. A self-taught painter and photographer, Tom relished capturing the beauty of small moments, from the waves and rocks of Maine's coast to flower petals in his garden. He cherished camping trips with his wife and three children, hikes and bike rides in Acadia National Park and spontaneous celebrations for no good reason.
Tom loved elaborate puns, good books, whimsy, and feasting on foods from exotic lands. He liked lazy days joking with his family, cut-throat yard games, and arts projects that usually got completed.
He instilled in his children a love of outdoors and creativity, working with them on bedroom murals, cartoon strips and photography trips. Through him, they inherited a zest for learning, respect for humanity and skepticism of authority. He adored and was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren, and rarely missed an opportunity to brag about them.
Besides his wife, Anita Kurth, Tom is survived by a daughter, Beth and Robert Konnik of South Windsor, Conn.; two sons, Steve Kurth of Grapevine, Texas, and Joel Kurth and Maureen Feighan-Kurth of West Bloomfield, Mich.; four grandchildren, Kate and Matt Konnik and Hope and Oscar Kurth; and siblings, Denise, David, and Peter Kurth. He was predeceased by a beloved grandson, Will Kurth.
A private service will be held at a later date. Donations in his name may be made to the
; the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation; or New Hope Hospice.
Published in BDN Maine on Sept. 7, 2013