Curtis S. Laughlin Jr., 82: Great Diamond Island's 'legend of volunteerism'

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PORTLAND – Curtis Stuart Laughlin, 82, died March 4, at Kennebunk Center for Health and Rehabilitation, where he had resided for the last eight years.

Laughlin was born Sept. 18, 1933, in Portland, the son of Curtis and Dorothy (Taylor) Laughlin. He attended Deering High School and went to college to be a teacher. He taught for a short time in Brunswick.

He returned to Portland and purchased a Victorian-era cottage on Great Diamond Island, where his family had summered since 1900. Following generations of family tradition, Laughlin was a deacon at Woodford Congregational Church.

Laughlin had a very thoughtful and deliberate manner, which likely contributed to his gift as a teacher. As a substitute teacher in Portland, he was greatly admired by his peers, and held a critical position working with students in special education. Other teachers noted Laughlin’s ability to connect with students that needed extra support.

He loved games and was a member of the Portland Chess Club for most of his life. Many of those years he was the president of the local chapter, organizing many historic tournaments. Only until his health began to fail did Laughlin miss Friday night meetings. Other evenings were spent visiting neighbors on the island for dinner, sharing stories and games of cards. He also played tennis, cared for the old clay tennis courts and taught many children to become proficient players.

Laughlin loved life on Great Diamond Island, and was called a “legend of volunteerism.” He served for decades as the board secretary of the Diamond Island Association, and credited for holding the group together. He was an original member of the Casco Bay Island Transit District. On Great Diamond Island he organized movie nights for the children, and always kept the fires burning for all of the lobster suppers and 4th of July celebrations.

Many people will miss Laughlin, and an island community will have to adjust to the loss.

Laughlin was predeceased by his brothers, Frederick Laughlin, of Portland, Ernest Laughlin, of Kittery and R. Bruce Laughlin, of Manchester, Connecticut; and a niece, Gail Laughlin, of Portland.

He is survived by two nephews, Phil Laughlin and Robert Laughlin; a niece, Cat Laughlin, of Manchester, Connecticut; and three grand-nephews, Zack Labbe, and Matthew and Nicholas Laughlin. 

Funeral arrangements had not been finalized at Jones, Rich and Hutchins of Portland by press time.

The family wishes to thank the staff at Kennebunk Center for Health and Rehabilitation for their kindness and care.