James A. Ledue, 57: Restaurateur, renaissance man
PORTLAND — James Andrew "Jim" Ledue, owner of The Good Egg, Alberta's Cafe, and Bella Bella, died Oct. 23 after a long illness.
Born in 1952 at Fort Eustis, Newport News, Va., son of Herb and Fran Ledue, he spent his early years in France and Panama.
He later graduated from Cheverus High School in 1970.
With a wanderlust for life, he traversed Canada on foot, making his way to Alaska and down the Pacific Northwest coast to California, with a brief stop in Wyoming before settling in Sante Fe, N.M. His love of the ocean brought him back to coastal Maine where he studied English Literature at USM.
With big ambitions and "champagne taste on a beer budget," he opened his first restaurant in the early 80s. The personification of gastronomy and oenology, he introduced Portland to culinary trends such as mesquite wood grilling, sausage-making and "death by chocolate" decades before their current popularity.
His world travels, innate curiosity, and hunger for knowledge fueled his prolific culinary vision. A familiar form on Congress Street, his striking appearance was as well known as his creative cuisine.
In addition to his accomplishments as a restaurateur, he exemplified a spirit of creativity and generosity that will live on long after his abbreviated life. A humanitarian whose creed was best represented in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, "A star to every wandering bark..." he opened his restaurants to the homeless, traded meals to those who couldn't afford one, and employed people of diverse backgrounds. He believed in the potential of every life.
As an artist and poet, he exhibited paintings and sculptures in his restaurants before it was fashionable, furthered the careers of numerous Portland artists and fed many actors from Mad Horse Theatre and Portland Stage Company. He always put his best foot forward and kept a lending hand out to others.
The epitome of a renaissance man, his many passions included books, birding, marathon running, kayaking, politics, philosophy, and music.
He was predeceased by his mother, Frances Nixon Ledue, and his brother, George Ledue.
Survivors include his beloved life partner, Sarah Bartlett of Pownal; his loving father, Herbert A. Ledue of Portland; four brothers, Michael and his wife Connie of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Robert, John, and Mark, all of Portland; four sisters, Catherine Shorr, and Frances Terroni, both of Portland, Annmarie Houran and her husband Brian of South Portland, and Mary Paine and her husband Tom of Limerick; and many wonderful aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Plans are being made for a celebration of his life in early December. A requiem feast will be served up by local chefs and friends in his honor. At that time, offerings will be gratefully accepted in lieu of flowers. For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering for the event, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Memorial condolences and memories can be shared on his obituary page at www.independentdeathcare.com.
Arrangements are by Independent Death Care, 471 Deering Ave., Portland.