Bath mourns death of long-time volunteer, city councilor

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BATH — City Councilor Ruthe Pagurko died unexpectedly last week at age 63.

Pagurko, who was serving her eighth year on the council, was found dead at her 36 Mechanic St. home Sept. 28, and had apparently died in her sleep, City Manager Bill Giroux said.

“She was a very dedicated volunteer,” Giroux said. “She volunteered more than anyone I know in the city of Bath. And it was always for things like the soup kitchen, the food bank, and the clothing exchange. Anything that was going to help people, she was there. I think we all thought highly of her, because of that aspect of her life.”

Giroux added that “it’s a shock, I think, to everybody. And I’m sure it’s very difficult for her family, to have this happen so suddenly, and really for the whole community, because that was her extended family, given her volunteering, and her time on the council.”

It was unclear when or how the City Council would fill the vacancy created by Pagurko’s death, Giroux said.

“Ruthe’s tireless efforts on behalf of countless civic and charitable organizations have left a lasting mark upon the City, and the community has lost a real champion with her passing,” City Council Chairman David Sinclair said in an e-mail, noting that the city is working with Pagurko’s family “to plan an appropriate remembrance event, to show Bath’s great appreciation for Ruthe’s spirit, her commitment, and the seemingly inexhaustible energy she invested so generously in the betterment of her community.

“Councilor Pagurko’s depth of civic engagement is exemplary of the true power and true value of citizenship,” Sinclair said.

Gov. Paul LePage directed state flags in Bath to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Pagurko’s honor. “I am saddened to hear of Councilor Pagurko’s untimely passing,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “I know she will be sorely missed by her loved ones and the community she so faithfully served.”

Pagurko lived in Bath for about 50 years. A widow with two grown daughters, Jennifer and Jamie, she described herself in 2010 as a homemaker who previously packed orders at L.L. Bean and worked with mentally challenged adults through the Independence Association.

Her volunteer work included the Christmas and Fourth of July parades, the Maine Maritime Museum and the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra. She was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary and also served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Main Street Bath and the Salvation Army. Her memberships included the Bath Senior Citizen’s Center, Community Policing and Volunteers in Policing, and the American Legion Auxiliary. She also worked with the Elder Abuse Task Force and the Bath Recognition Committee.

“I’m dedicated, I work hard,” she said in 2010. “… I go out and literally talk to people on the street to see what their ideas are … before I vote on anything.”

Funeral services were held Tuesday at the First Baptist Church.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Ruthe Pagurko

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.