ELLSWORTH and NEW YORK CITY - On May 1, 2012, Kenneth L. Closson was gathered to his ancestors after gracing this planet for 93 years. He was born April 14, 1919, in Bayside, to Albert E. and Vera (Swain) Closson. Two years later the family moved up the Bayside Road to 396 Water St., where, in 1926, Ken's sister, Alberta was born. Ken attended Ellsworth schools and graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1936, the first class to use the newly built City Hall for its ceremony. He was elected class president for all four years, an honor he could never understand as he was not an athlete or a better than average student. He was, however, a better than average pianist and played for many school activities as well as in pick-up dance bands. Following the 1933 fire he served as organist at the newly rebuilt United Baptist Church and also as substitute organist at the old Unitarian church on Main Street. During the Depression years work was hard to come by but Ken found that serving the public was something he could do well and he did so at various local businesses at that time: Patten's Shoe Store, Silvy and Kief Pontiac garage and H. Blaine Davis Building Materials. Over those years he saved enough money for a year at the University of Maine and enrolled in 1940. World War II prevented his completing more than his freshman year. In October 1941, before Pearl Harbor, Ken enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was assigned to recruiting and served until July 1946. Not a glamorous billet, but a vital one for the war effort. In the fall of 1946, Ken resumed study at the university and in 1948, he with three student friends, sailed to France for a year of study at the University of Paris - Sorbonne returning to UMaine in 1949 for his senior year and graduate work in English. More graduate work followed at UCLA after a forgettable year of teaching at Waterville Senior High. Ken's father died in 1952 and he returned from California to be near his aging mother. On his birthday, in 1952, Ken secured a position with the AAA - Automobile Club of New York, where he served the public for 49 years. Music enhanced his life from birth. He studied both piano and voice; in college he was a member of the glee club, the varsity singers, and a madrigal group. While in New York City, Ken joined a professional church choir - Church of the Ascension and became baritone soloist for 25 years. Starting in 1995, Ken together with his life partner Morris Gesell, traveled to France every year for 10 years. He loved Paris and all things French. His later years were spent in Ellsworth and New York City, but he considered Ellsworth as his principle residence. He is survived by his life partner, Morris Gesell; a few cousins; two nephews, James Freeman of North Carolina and John Freeman; and niece, Linda Stone, both of Virginia; as well as many friends. No known enemies. He was predeceased by a sister, Alberta C. Freeman. Burial will be at Woodbine Cemetery, Ellsworth. One of his favorite quotes was written by a 17th Century English poet, John Dryden: "The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour." If so motivated, donations in Ken's memory may be made where he was an active member to the Ellsworth Historical Society, P.O. Box 355, Ellsworth, ME 04605. Arrangements in care of Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St., Ellsworth. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.
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Published in BDN Maine on May 5, 2012