Richard Hilton, 61: Founder of Edgecomb Potters

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CUMBERLAND — Richard Hilton, 61, of Cumberland Foreside, died after a long illness on Nov. 4 at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

Born in 1950 in Melrose, Mass., he was the son of Clyde and Phyllis Hilton. A communications major at Emerson College in Boston, he had planned a career in broadcast. He married Christine Ruggelo Hilton; they were together for 40 years.

In 1976 they moved to Maine and began Edgecomb Potters at the same time they started their family. They had two sons, Craig Richard and Bradford Julian. In their pottery business, Hilton and his wife hand threw pots and sold them out of the Red School House that was their home, studio and the original Edgecomb Potters store on Boothbay Road in Edgecomb. Because of Hilton’s ingenuity, Edgecomb Potters became one of the businesses which sold in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston on its opening day in 1977 and for some years after that.

As a potter, he recognized that he needed to spend time on developing his artistic craft, and his focus and dedication led him to develop techniques completely new to the industry. An innovator in production pottery, he and the company did things that no one had ever thought of, later becoming a leading ceramic chemist keeping Edgecomb’s techniques and glazers on the cutting edge. Over the years he developed hundreds of glazes through experimentation and observation, mixing and firing over and over until the glazes came to life; Copper Red was his first nationally recognized glaze.

Hilton’s work has been selected by the Russian Ambassador to the United States to be presented to Portland’s Russian sister city’s mayor. One of his large vases with Kyoto Forest glaze was given as a gift to the President of Taiwan. Hilton’s work was showcased multiple times in industry magazines including Ceramics Monthly and Niche Magazine as well as being recognized in the Boston Globe, American Style, the Dallas Times, the San Diego Union, Downeast, and others. In 1993, Edgecomb Potters was listed as one of the “Best of the Road” by Rand McNally Road Atlas.

In the first year of Edgecomb Potters, Hilton had quietly asked God for just a little success. He knew that his great success was a blessing from God which was nurtured by hard work and commitment.  He loved the form and function of what he made and reveled in the fantastic colors that he was able to create. He had the eye of a master artist without any training.  When he made something he wondered at the joy it brought him and others. He was grateful to God for the opportunity and gift.

Filled with tremendous love, pride, and concern for his family, Hilton loved to play with and tease his boys when they were little. Christmas was always celebrated first as the birth of His Lord and then as a day of fun with gifts, food and laughter filling their home. As his sons grew into men, Hilton loved to spend time guiding, talking and sharing with them, hoping they would work hard to do well while not taking life too seriously. He was once asked in an interview which piece of Edgecomb he was most proud of and his answer was simple, his two sons.

His friends and family will remember him as a warm-hearted man who loved people who firmly believe that everyone who is given much, must also give much. He loved to surprise people with gifts and made special occasions so much better because he loved to see the joy in others. He was generous with organizations that helped the poor such as Central Africa Vision, Hope House and The Root Cellar.

Hilton said, “I believe that great art pottery encompasses a spirit reflected in life; no two pieces, as no two people, no two living creatures, are exactly alike.” He was was a special creation who left his fingerprints on many in his passing. He will be missed.

Predeceased by his father, Hilton is survived by his mother Phyllis of Saco; his wife Christine of Cumberland; his two sons Craig Hilton of Cumberland and Brad Hilton of San Diego, Calif.; three brothers, James of St. Augustine, Fla., Clyde of Haverhill, Mass., and Scott of Boston, Mass.; as well as the Profenna family of Everett, Mass.; the Ruggelo family of Amesbury, Mass., and the Hommel family of Revere, Mass.

A celebration of his life was held on Nov. 9 at First Baptist Church, Canco Road in Portland. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to The Root Cellar, 94 Washington Ave., Portland, 04103.

Please visit lindquistfuneralhome.com for additional information and to sign Hilton’s guest book.

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