Bogart's Story

PORTLAND - Bogart Salzberg died on January 6, 2016 of brain cancer. He was 40 years old.

Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, he lived most of his life in Maine. He graduated from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor in 1996 and attended the SALT Institute of Documentary Studies.

Throughout his life, Bogart was fiercely proud, unafraid of a challenge, and brilliantly skilled with both words and hands. He loved and was deeply loved by his family and friends, who will always remember his dry sense of humor and smiling eyes.

At work he was a journalist, a woodworker, a coder, and a guide. At home he was a builder, a reader, and a playful and tender father.

A significant part of Bogart's life for a few years was his work as a newspaper reporter, first at the Lincoln County Weekly in Damariscotta in the late 90s, where he won multiple photography awards, and then at the Eagle Tribune daily newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. Always a good writer, Bogart honed this skill as a general assignment reporter, displaying an ability for language that later drew people in to the highly compelling and personal prose of his blog, My Brain Cancer Diary.

In an exchange with a former colleague in the comments section of his blog, Bogart described his former newspaper efforts of bearing witness to events of "local interest and little consequence" as a way of writing "fables that might someday define a lost time." Writing a blog about his cancer, he wrote, was a similar attempt to document the world he lived in.

"I suppose that's what I'm trying to do now, tell a story of our time and place," Bogart said. "Without the rigor of real journalism, it is, perhaps, only a story of my time and place. I accept that. Somewhere along the way I slipped out from under the thumb of the 'God's-eye view.' What little I see of this world, herein, may poorly render the Truth we share, but it remains, I hope, true to how I lived it."

Bogart always felt drawn to the seas. He spent much of the final years of his life exploring the Maine coast by sea kayak, on his own and with family and friends. After being diagnosed with gliosarcoma in 2011, Bogart embarked on an expedition from Portland to Bar Harbor by sail board and kayak. He documented the epic journey (including some exhilarating mishaps and epiphanies) in a series of articles for Working Waterfront newspaper. Bogart became a Registered Maine Sea Kayaking Guide in 2013 when his medical condition improved and began working as a guide for two Casco Bay outfitters, Portland Paddle and Maine Island Kayak Company. He shared his passion for paddling and his deep knowledge of the Maine coast with many hundreds of people. He was a cherished member of the local sea kayaking community, and his paddling friends will always be inspired by memories of Bogart gliding across the waters of Casco Bay in his orange Tempest sea kayak.

He was a ferocious fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins, and an authority on Maine's coast, its landscape, and its fine craft beers.

He will also be remembered by the aikido community for his legendary focus, and by the people he studied French with when, even after the diagnosis, he wanted to connect to his French-Canadian roots.

He is survived by his son Sam Mossberg; by his parents and step-parents, Steve and Annemarie Salzberg and Celeste and Bob Longacre; by sisters Sasha and Crystal; by his brothers, Ben and Chris, brothers in law Evan Carroll and Dan Foley, Sister in Law Marlaina Salzberg, nieces Madalyn, Olivia, and Audrey, nephews Jesse and Sonny, and many other relatives.
There will be a ceremony to honor his life on Wednesday, January 13 at 11 AM, East End Beach, Portland. Instead of flowers, please consider a donation to Portland Trails, a nonprofit land trust: www.trails.org.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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