Ralph C. Baxter Sr., 83: S.P. councilor, teacher served community in many ways

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Ralph Clinton Baxter Sr., 83, of South Portland, died March 20, with his family by his side.

Baxter was born Feb. 28, 1932, in Ashland, to Ralph K. and Alice H. Baxter. After graduating from Ashland High School in 1949, Ralph C. attended the University of Maine, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1953.

He married his wife of 61 years, Mary E. (Rustin) Baxter, of Milford, on July 18, 1953. 

After beginning his career as a teacher of biology and physical education, he returned to the University of Maine to earn his master’s degree in 1962.

Baxter continued his career as an assistant principal at Bangor High School, and later served as principal of Ellsworth High School, of South Portland High School, and of the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. He went on to work for the University of Southern Maine, in both the child-care services department and at the Stone House property in Freeport.

Never idle even in retirement, Baxter later enjoyed a part-time job at the L.L. Bean children’s store in Freeport.

Baxter’s strong dedication to his community led him to serve the public in many ways. He was a member of South Portland City Council for nine years, and served a one-year term as mayor of South Portland in 1997. He also was a key member of the Secondary Schools Facility Committee that planned the development of the new South Portland High School, which was completed in 2014.

Baxter loved the outdoors. He scaled Mt. Katahdin many times with family and friends, won awards in running and skiing competitions, and spent many days at family camps on Fields Pond in Orrington, and on Little Sebago Lake in Gray. Gardening, woodworking and house-painting were other favorite pastimes.

An avid baseball fan, especially of the Boston Red Sox, Baxter coached Little League in Bangor. He also coached high-school basketball, and served as a ski instructor in central Maine.

Baxter is survived by his wife, Mary, of South Portland; his daughter, Pamela S. Comoletti, and husband, Don, of Ocean Park; his daughter, Penny S. Gagnon, and husband, Fred, of Scarborough; and his son, Ralph C. Baxter Jr., and wife, Heather, of South Portland. He is also survived by his three granddaughters, Alisha S. Gagnon, of Scarborough, Natasha A. Baxter, of South Portland, and Hayley E. Baxter, of South Portland.

A funeral was held Wednesday at Hobbs Funeral Home, in South Portland.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ralph C. Baxter Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o the South Portland School Department, 130 Wescott Road, South Portland, ME 04106.

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