TOPSHAM — Dean George Tibbitts, 77, died peacefully at his home on July 11, after a year-long battle with lung cancer.
Born Jan. 25, 1938, in East Millinocket, Dean was the second identical twin son to Edith Mae Stratton Tibbitts and Carrick Amos Tibbitts. He attended schools in East Millinocket and graduated from Schenck High School in 1956. Eleven days after graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy.
On May 17, 1958, he married Barbara Ann Smart of Millinocket. The couple moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Tibbitts was stationed aboard the USS Vandivier. He was then chosen to join a new program: Adm. Hyman Rickover’s “nuclear-powered Navy.”
Over the next several years, Tibbitts and his wife moved to Vallejo, California, Pocatello, Idaho, and Schenectady, New York, for training in this new field. His next duty station was the USS Bainbridge, where he was a plank-owner and served for four years. During that time, he sailed on deployent cruises and traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, and Collingswood, New Jersey.
Tibbitts then received further training in Saratoga Springs, New York, and was assigned to the USS Truxton, home-ported in Long Beach, California. Aboard the Truxton for eight years, he oversaw operations of of the ship’s nuclear reactor engines.
In 1976, after 20 years of service and obtaining the rank of senior chief petty officer, he asked to be assigned back to the East Coast. He was stationed in Groton, Connecticut, where he instructed sailors in nuclear power. In 1979, he retired from the Navy with many honors, and went to work for the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset. He retired in 1997 when the facility was being closed.
Tibbitts is survived by his wife of 57 years, Barbara; daughter, Dina, and her husband, Tony; son, Scott, and his wife, Angela; grandson, Jeffrey, and his wife, Michelle; granddaughter, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Corey; grandsons, Griffin, Caleb and Angus; step-grandsons, Garrett and Sage; great-granddaughter, Vivienne; twin brother, Donald; sisters, Carolyn, Patricia and her husband, Karl, and Helen and her boyfriend, Richard; sisters-in-law, Ethel and her husband, Al, and Constance; brother-in-law, Frank and his wife, Elizabeth; aunts, uncles and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held July 16 at Stetson’s Funeral Home in Brunswick. A graveside service with military honors followed on July 18 in the East Millinocket Cemetery.