Jay's Story

ELLSWORTH - Jay would like everyone to know that he was predeceased by a whole lot of people, including Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Rocky Johnson, Andy and Mary J., the Pisani family, Jimmy Casey, Gene Townsend, Priscilla Caret, Gerry Taber, his brother, John, his parents, and a number of companion dogs. He hoped for fond reunions in the afterlife. Let the music begin!

Jay was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the first child of Jay B. and Lucille Dickson Hinson. He eventually gained two sisters, Jackie and June, and a brother, John. His family ultimately moved to New York and settled in Hartsdale. He graduated from Bronxville High School.

After graduation he moved to Maine with his close friends, the Greenlaw family, to Isle Au Haut, where he worked on a lobster boat. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corp in September, 1942. In August on 1943 he was assigned to a combat radar outfit that landed during the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands, where he stayed for the remainder of the war. If you knew Jay, you would know that cold was his least favorite temperature, then and ever-after. He was honorably discharged in November of 1945. In September of 1946 he was admitted to Colby College, from which he graduated in June of 1950. He married his college sweetheart Jane McLeod and together they raised four children: Eric, Chris, Wendy and David. These four produced nine dynamic grandchildren and added two step-grandchildren. Jay ultimately came to meet two great-grandchildren before he passed.

Throughout his life, Jay was employed in the field of journalism. He started as editor of the Presque Isle Star Herald, was Washington County bureau chief for the Bangor Daily News, wrote for Yankee magazine, and in 1958 bought the Calais Advertiser, a newspaper started in 1836. For over a quarter of a century, he was publisher editor of that paper while starting a commercial printing business, the Calais Press, which became the largest commercial printing business this side of Bangor. It remains in the family in the hands of his son Eric.

In 1967 Jay and his good friend, Gene Townsend purchased the Machias Valley News Observer, a weekly paper started in 1852. In 1991 he started a highly read yearly visitor's guide to his beloved Washington County, called Discovering Maine's Washington County.

He was a longtime member of the American Legion Post in Calais, a past King Lion of the Calais Lions Club, and served as Executive Secretary of the Calais Chamber of Commerce. For five year during the early 1960's Jay was chairman of the Washington County Development Authority (WCDA), having been appointed by Gov. John Reed. The WCDA created the public pier in Eastport, the park at Reversing Falls in Pembroke, West Quoddy Head State Park, McClelland State Park in Milbridge, as well as several smaller parks and boat launching ramps throughout the county.

Jay loved people, music, nature, boating and a stiff drink... preferably all at the same time. He had a love affair with this county he called home moving here in the early 50's. During his newspaper years, he became familiar with every nook and cranny, by road, boat and air. He carried a camera the way women carry purses. He loved the color, scent, texture, beauty, freedom and community spirit of the area; the glory of the panorama and the close up of lichen, daisies and tidal pools. His photography, which he always gave away without any thought to preserving his work, graces many homes and businesses.

He worshipped many gods including, Thor, Neptune, Terpsichore, Bacchus, Eros and of course Pan. Nature was his muse; humor his response to the world. He was a very funny man in oh so many ways. His wit remained with him till very near the end. In 1985 he married the former Karen Damborg and added her daughters, Heather and Wendy to the family tree. He and Karen moved to Machias in 2007 where Jay continued his retirement and Karen became editor of the Machias Valley News.

At his request, no services will be held. At a later date, there may be a gathering of friends and family to celebrate and remember a life enjoyed and shared by anyone willing to stay up late and listen to music.

Donations in his name may be sent to the animal shelter of your choice, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Foundation, or to Habitat for Humanity. In his memory you could do no finer thing than to come visit someone in a veteran's or nursing home.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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