Henry L. Thibodeau, 96, born November 2nd, 1924 in the Allagash Maine Wilderness Region (St. Frances, Maine), son of Phillip Thibodeau and Elodie Dufour, passed away peacefully at his own home surrounded by his loving family on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
In 1954 Henry married the love of his life Joan D. Bowley of Gurnet, Maine. He and his predeceased wife Joan (Bowley) Thibodeau settled in Portland, Maine raised four children, Jeanne Thibodeau of Saco, Karon Thibodeau (deceased January 2006), Michael Thibodeau of Branford, CT and James Thibodeau of Falmouth, ME. Henry is survived by 6 Grandchildren and 3 Great Grandchildren.
Henry, also known as “Hank” by many friends and business associates, graduated from Fort Kent High School in 1943 as Salutatorian. While still in High School, he voluntarily enlisted in the Navy and upon graduation went on to bravely serve his country in the Pacific Theater. He became a radar operator on an LST (landing ship, tank), and was also a gunner during battle engagements on a 40 M.M. anti-aircraft cannon. Upon honorable discharge in 1946 he received the WWII Victory Medal; American Theater Medal; Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal; Philippine Liberation Medal; and the Amphibious Corp Emblem.
After WWII, he attended the University of Maine at Orono, where he became a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and in 1950 earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry. During his college years, he worked summers for Lucas Tree Expert Company and upon graduation was hired on by Lucas starting as a laborer then appointed to Division Manager and then became the first Vice President. In all he served a total of 52 years until his retirement in 2003 at age 78. During his tenure with Lucas, Henry was extremely dedicated to improving working conditions and safety of front-line workers exposed to hazards when working around electric utilities, especially during hurricanes and winter conditions. He also helped improve safety and working conditions in the forestry industry while delivering professional services to the public for the care of shade trees and in the clearing and maintaining of utility Right-of-Ways which is critically important at all times and also very hazardous work.
In conjunction with his work at the Lucas Company, he helped reorganize the Maine Arborists Association (MAA) which had been allowed to lapse during WW2.
Over the years Henry was awarded for perfect attendance to annual MAA meetings and held every position including President and Executive Director. During his 40 years on its Board of Directors, Henry was appointed by four successive governors to serve on the State of Maine Arborists Examining Board for a total of 16 years. Henry was acknowledged as a leading expert on the use of pesticides and herbicides and helped initiate and develop applicator licensing that currently exists today.
Upon retirement, he was awarded the “Lifetime Honorary Membership to MAA”. He looked forward to annual meetings held each spring where he could renew old acquaintances and meet new members.
Henry enjoyed community service throughout his life. For a total of 13 years, he served successive terms in Boy Scouts of America as a Scout Leader, Scout Master, and finally as the Regional Commissioner. Henry was also a devoted member of Woodfords Congregational Church where he served as captain of an ushering team at Sunday services, and as advisor to the church’s grounds maintenance committee to replace dead trees killed by Dutch Elm Disease with the current maple trees. Additionally, he personally planted flowering crab trees and shrubs to beautify Woodfords as it exists today. His son James followed his father’s example and took care of the grounds for a full year for his Eagle Scout Community Service project.
Happiest immersed in outdoor activities, whether for work or recreation, he remained active well into his senior years – snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, walking on the beach, and hiking mountain trails.
Henry was a humble empathetic man who loved nature, people, travel, and the wonderments of the life and the scientific universe. He often wrote philosophical thoughts down and was a frequent letter writer. A deeply insightful man with sincere appreciation and empathy for all, Henry was adored and respected by all those he encountered. He was a pillar of strength and beacon of guidance for his family, descendants, and close friends. He accepted all of life’s challenges with grace, humility, and tenacious spirit to understand and overcome. Leading by example he passed his philosophies, wisdom, and temperament, to all that had the benefit of his enjoyable companionship.
He believed it a privilege to belong to the “family of mankind”, and to experience and participate in the human condition of varied attitudes, perspectives, philosophies, and opinions. No matter what, he always searched for and found the positive perspective. He remained inquisitive and accepting of alternative perspectives always eager to discuss, explore, ponder…with an open mind and open heart. One of his favorite expressions of life gratitude was always displayed in artistic hand written form on the refrigerator door in his Portland Home.
Life! What a gift! No matter how you use it. Life is the first and most precious Gift of all, without which there would be no other gifts!
Due to Covid-19 concerns, the services for Henry that were scheduled to be held at A. T. Hutchins Funeral Home on Thursday November 19, 2020 have been postponed until Spring 2021. A spring burial of Henry’s cremains will be in the family plot at St. Matthew Cemetery, West Enfield Maine.
In lieu of flowers we are encouraging donations to gofundme to help Roddy & Julia https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-roddy-amp-julia?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1
Or the Prostate Cancer Foundation https://cure.pcf.org/site/Donation2?df_id=1561&mfc_pref=T&1561.donation=form1
For those unable to attend the service, it will be live streamed on the A. T. Hutchins Facebook Page starting at 3:30 PM.
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