David Brown Pillsbury, 78: Lifelong advocate for teachers

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CAPE ELIZABETH — David Brown Pillsbury, 78, of Cape Elizabeth and South Portland died Feb. 19, at Maine Medical Center.

He was born March 8, 1935, in Manchester, N.H., to Dan and Evelyn Pillsbury. He grew up with his older sister, Mary Ann Shepherd, younger sister, Muriel, and his pet fox, Foxy. After his junior year of high school, the family moved to Auburn, where he graduated from Edward Little High School. He then attended Northeastern University, graduating with a business degree. He initially started a training program at IBM but soon realized that the corporate world was not for him. With the intention of devoting himself to public service as a teacher, he attended the University of Orono, majoring in history. A condensed version of his master’s thesis, appeared in The Railroad Enthusiast magazine.

He started his teaching career in the 1960s, working at various Portland schools before he landed at Deering High School, where he taught U.S. history until his retirement in 1995. While serving as president of the Portland Teachers Association, he was instrumental in making significant change in the way public school teachers were treated. During that time, he met Martha Ann Dyro, of Portland and they married 1971. They raised their three children in South Portland.

After retiring, he became an active advocate for retired teachers, first serving as president of the Cumberland County Retired Educators Association, then serving as the Legislative Committee Chair for the Maine Education Association–Retired. In 2001, he established their first Legislative Contact Team.

He loved to travel, and he visited all 48 contiguous states over the years. He was a voracious reader of historical books, especially presidential biographies and anything about the Civil War. He would gladly offer a history lecture to anyone who would listen. He also enjoyed carpentry, gardening, playing the piano, and after retirement, escaping the winter cold with trips to Anna Maria Island, Fla., with his family. In his last few years, his grandchildren were his greatest joy.

In addition to his devoted wife, Martha Pillsbury, he is survived by his daughter Marianne Pillsbury; son, David Darius Pillsbury and daughter-in-law, Marissa; daughter, Heidianne Pillsbury, son-in-law, Eric Pinsky and granddaughters, Halston and Acadia; sister and brother-in-law, Muriel and Terry Allen; nephews, Don Shepherd, Doug Shepherd and Cyrus Cramer; and niece, Amanda Cramer.

Visiting hours were held, Feb. 21, at Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, Portland. A private burial was held at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in honor of David B. Pillsbury to Cumberland County Scholarship Fund, c/o Karen Oak, Treasurer Cumberland County Retired Educators Association (CCREA) 345 Saco Street #47 Westbrook, ME 04092.

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