- The gates of Heaven opened up on January 20, 2018, and welcomed USN Lt. Cmdr (ret) David Roland Phaneuf, age 82, from the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. He died very peacefully at Down East Community Hospital in Machias, Maine, with his loving wife of 60 years and cherished daughter by his side. He was born in Fitchburg, MA, on September 4, 1935, to Clarence and Lauretta (Hamel) Phaneuf. He graduated from Fitchburg High School in 1953 and entered the US Navy in March 1954 at Bainbridge, MD, and then attended and graduated from Communications Technician School in Imperial Beach, CA. His Naval tours of duty that followed were in Guam/Mariana Islands; the Philippines; NSGA Winter Harbor (where he met Neta, the love of his life); Kami Saya Japan; NCS Guam (where he was commissioned Ensign and spent six weeks attending Officer's Candidate School in Newport, RI); NSA Ft. Meade, MD; RAF Edzell, Scotland; US Naval Headquarters in Washington, DC and finally, before retiring after 21 years in the US Navy, he was re-stationed at NSA Ft. Meade, MD. At the time of his retirement in June 1975, he moved his family back to Gouldsboro, ME. They lived in their home for 42 years before David was relocated to the Maine Vets Home in Machias due to his condition with Alzheimer's. When Neta was admitted to East Point Assisted Living Center in Machias, he moved over to her facility so they were together once again.
During his time in the US Navy, David had been working on his Bachelor's Degree in Education and Administration and when he moved back to Maine, he finished his last two years of college at the University of Maine in Machias where he graduated with honors in 1977 and then received his Masters Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Maine at Orono in 1979. He was 8th grade teacher at Lamoine Consolidated School starting in September 1977, half time principal/eighth grade teacher for one year, and then became full time principal in September 1979 until his retirement in June 1995.
In August of 1957, he met his best friend and soul mate, LaNeta Rice of Birch Harbor, ME, and they were married in December 1957. Along with the Naval career moves, Dave and Neta continued to travel the globe after his retirement from the US Navy and Lamoine School. They returned many times to visit very dear friends in Scotland and also were able to visit the Orkney and Hebrides Islands, England, Ireland, and Wales. They also were lucky enough to travel to Australia and New Zealand, Puerto Rico, many Canadian Provinces, and Alaska.
For many years, they were "snow birds" and spent the winter months in the Cocoa Beach area of Florida and returned each spring back to Maine. Neta kept a travel journal they had traveled to and had slept in all 50 United States. In addition to their travels, they loved to spend time at their camp on Joners Pond in Gouldsboro. Many a summer night or Holiday weekend was spent swimming in the pond, eating great BBQ food and laughing around the campfire.
Also after retiring, Dave worked for five years compiling historical information, documents, and photographs about the history of the Naval base at Winter Harbor, Maine. He produced a two volume book in the spring of 2015 entitled - "Winter Harbor's Naval History 1917- 2002".
David is survived by his beloved wife, Neta, currently living at East Point Assisted Living in Machias. His oldest brother, Clarence, and his sister, Denise, live in FL and his brother, Charles (Louise), lives in MA. His daughter, Pam and husband, Jeff, live in Gouldsboro, ME, his oldest son, Tony and wife, Christina, live in MN, and younger son, Mike and wife, Michelle, live in AL. He has seven adored grandchildren, and three very precious great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his parents, his brother, Robert, and sisters, Pauline Delle Chiaie and Joan Phaneuf. He leaves behind many great friends accumulated from all his Navy stations, along with family and friends in Maine, and many nieces and nephews spread all over the United States.
David was a member of the Naval Communications Veterans' Association and he was a "plankowner" (founding board member) of the NCVA-New England Division. He was also a past President and Treasurer.
Due to his wishes, he will be cremated and buried after Neta's death (a double urn ensured they would always be together) at Hillside Cemetery in Birch Harbor with the rest of his "Maine family". A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on June 29, 2018, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ellsworth. In lieu of flowers, a monetary gift to the Alzheimer's Association (alz.org) would be greatly appreciated.
Published on  January 25, 2018