SOUTH PORTLAND - Ralph Clinton Baxter, Sr., age 83, of South Portland, died on Friday, March 20, 2015, with his loving family by his side. He was born on February 28, 1932, in Ashland, Maine, and was the son of Ralph K. and Alice H. Baxter. Ralph graduated from Ashland High School in 1949, and later from the University of Maine in Orono, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in education in 1953. After beginning his teaching career and starting a family, he returned to the University of Maine to earn his Masters of Education in 1962. He greatly valued learning, and continued to study and attain knowledge throughout his life.
Ralph married his wife of 61 years, Mary E. (Rustin) Baxter of Milford, Maine, on July 18, 1953. They lived in the communities of Ashland, Kennebunk, Lee, Bangor, and South Portland throughout their marriage. They raised three children and formed a strong family unit, which Ralph treasured throughout his life.
Ralph taught biology and physical education in the public schools for several years, and continued his career as a high school principal at Ellsworth High School in Ellsworth, South Portland High School in South Portland, and Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine. Ralph went on to work for the University of Southern Maine, in both the childcare services department and at the Stonehouse property in Freeport. Not one to stop working after retirement, Ralph continued to enjoy a part-time job at the LL Kids store in Freeport.
Ralph's strong dedication to community service led him to serve the public in many ways. He was a member of South Portland City Council for nine years, and served a one-year term as mayor of South Portland in 1997. He was a key member of the Secondary Schools Facility Committee that planned the development of the new South Portland High School, completed and dedicated in 2014.
Ralph was a man of many interests, which included skiing of all kinds, running, and hiking. He climbed Mt. Katahdin numerous times with family and friends. He competed both in shoes and on skis, winning awards in various categories thorough the years. Many hours were spent outdoors camping, and at the family camps on Fields Pond in Orrington, and Little Sebago Lake in Gray. Gardening, woodworking and house painting were additional pastimes of Ralph's. He did renovations in his family homes, and made numerous items for family members. An avid animal lover, Ralph had many pets with his wife and children, ranging from the biggest St. Bernard to the littlest hamster.
Those who knew Ralph also knew of his love of sports and athletics. Ralph played sports throughout high school, and was a member of the University of Maine cross-country ski team. He especially loved baseball and the Boston Red Sox. His interest in sports led him to coach Bangor Little League, high school basketball, and baseball. In addition, he was a ski instructor in Central Maine, and taught his wife, children, and grandchildren how to ski.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Mary, of South Portland; his daughter, Pamela S. Comoletti, and husband Don, of Ocean Park; his daughter, Penny S. Gagnon, and husband Fred, of Scarborough; and his son, Ralph C. Baxter Jr., and wife Heather, of South Portland. He is also survived by his three granddaughters; Alisha S. Gagnon, of Scarborough; Natasha A. Baxter, of South Portland; and Hayley E. Baxter, of South Portland.
Visiting hours and service will be held at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland. Visiting hours will be Tuesday, March 24, 4-7 p.m. The funeral service will be Wednesday, March 25, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Ralph C. Baxter, Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o the South Portland School Department, 130 Wescott Road, South Portland, Maine 04106.