BAR HARBOR - Lawyer, community visionary, man of God, compassionate friend and counselor to people at every level of society, Douglas B. Chapman, 79, of Bar Harbor, died peacefully on July 19, 2016. He was born Jan. 28, 1937, in Bangor, to Douglas T. Chapman and Hilda E. Chapman.
Doug was a graduate of Saint Francis Xavier University and Dalhousie University, where he received his law degree. In 1964, Doug joined the Bar Harbor law firm now known as Fenton, Chapman, Wheatley & Kane P.A., founded by L.B. Deasy in 1884. He was admitted to practice in Maine courts and in the U.S. District Court, District of Maine, that same year. He eventually practiced before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals and Passamaquoddy Tribal Court. From 1969-1970, he served as county attorney for Hancock County.
According to Dr. William Horner, grandson of L.B. Deasy, Doug was integral in shaping the community people know today. "Doug was a big man of great depth who had big visions for his community and an even bigger heart," Horner said. "He cared passionately about this place." Horner continued, "He carried the standard for a prestigious law firm. His generosity and love of Mount Desert Island history, seasoned with a respect for the work of his legal forebears as well as his own considerable work on behalf of this place we call Acadia, opened historical doors for me that I could not have imagined." Quickly developing a bedrock reputation as a man who got things done, Doug repeatedly devoted his considerable intellectual energies to numerous community project efforts.
"Doug was a gentle giant in every way," said architect Alan Baldwin. "He came across like a bulldog after his bone, but if he saw you were in need of a bone, it would be yours." He continued, "Doug was a fountain of creative ideas identifying opportunities to improve his community and quality of life for its citizens." Among those efforts were low-income housing projects in Bar Harbor, senior housing units such as Malvern Belmont in Bar Harbor, the Sheltered Workshop, the downtown streetscape project for Main and Cottage streets and the Bar Harbor Waterfront Plan. He also helped write the town's first zoning and design review regulations. Often, Doug worked pro bono or for just enough to cover out-of-pocket expenses.
"Doug successfully brought $2.5 million dollars to MDI for the redesign and revitalization of downtown Bar Harbor," Baldwin recalled. "He insisted that handicapped accessibility must be an integral part of the redesign." He also was intimately involved in the legal work for conservation efforts, including projects for Maine Coast Heritage Trust and, on the Acadian Farm development, for the National Park Foundation. Doug also served on numerous professional boards, was integral to the creation of what is now known as The Boat School in Eastport, and was a longtime volunteer on the board of Catholic Charities Maine.
In addition to serving his friends and neighbors, Doug also strived to follow his deep and abiding faith and to improve the lives of those often overlooked by mainstream society. That prompted him to work to help starving people and orphans in India and those struggling with chemical addiction closer to home.
"For many years, Doug worked to advance his vision of a residential therapeutic community for substance abuse in Maine," said William Patten of Mount Desert. "His nonprofit 'The Maine Lighthouse' (TML) evolved from Doug's broad range of contacts, including the late Dr. Stanley Evans, and was moving forward at the time of his death," Patten explained. "Over his many years in the legal system, Doug witnessed the devastating human costs of addiction and was passionately concerned about the absence of adequate treatment facilities in his home state." According to Kathy Miller of Somesville, Doug "kept alive the dream of providing a new level of care to those suffering from addiction." It resulted in him being named a "Perpetual Lightkeeper" by the TML. "He was a complex man, with many layers and an amazing web of personal connections," Miller said. "His faith was at his core."
Doug treasured the time spent at the family camps on Sunset Cove on Meddybemps Lake. His childhood memories, which included his sister and his parents and their early years together, sustained him as he grew older. It was important to him that the "Sunset Camps" were part of all his children's formative years. All will continue to cherish those memories.
Doug is survived by his wife, Aileen, of Bar Harbor, and his adopted children, Harry Chapman and wife, Kim, of Bar Harbor, Donna Walton and husband, Bruce, of Seal Harbor, and Debra Salman and husband, Robert, of South Carolina. He also leaves behind Ericka Jeffers and partner, Jim Hanscom, of Bar Harbor, Christopher P. Jeffers and partner, Danielle Jeffers, of Clearwater Beach, Fla., grandchildren Jason Chapman and wife, Alexis, Abbie and husband, Travis Johnson, Alisha and Emily Walton, Adam and Ian Salman, Cassidy M. and James P. Hanscom, Aidan C. and Kaili C. Jeffers, and great-grandchildren Joe'l and Barrett.
Survivors also include his sister, Cynthia Chapman, of Portland, and her children, James B. White, Christopher Chapman White, and Therese K. White, MD. Doug also leaves behind dear friend and paralegal Ruth Baldwin, Aileen's siblings and their families, "Mrs. Kelley," as well as many longtime friends and colleagues.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, Aug. 8, at 11 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 21 Ledgelawn Ave. in Bar Harbor. A gathering to celebrate and honor Doug's life will be held afterward at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, Seal Harbor.
Condolences may be expressed at www.JordanFernald.com.