MARINERS: Stay in Touch
Share what you’ve been doing with your fellow alumni. Tell us about career changes, latest achievements, hobbies and adventures. Photos welcome. Submit Alumni News or Class Notes Now.
The Captain Richard G. Spear was launched from Washburn & Doughty, East Boothbay, Maine on April 9. The newest vessel of the Maine State Ferry Service fleet is named after MMA graduate Capt. Richard G. Spear ’43-1, the first employee of the State Ferry Service.
Under the watchful eye of tug captain Finn Welch ’13, Gordon Brailsford of Bridgewater, Mass. backs the Pentagoet into its waterfront berth after he and his reunion classmates and friends returned from an afternoon cruise of Penobscot Bay August 10. While underway, they spotted the TS State of Maine at anchor in Searsport, making preparations to return to Castine the next day.
Richard Merrifield found the historic schooner Bowdoin at the Castine waterfront during one of her rare summer rests from a busy training summer. Merrifield was in town attending his class reunion.
Alumni’s work will help train the next generation of mariners
Growing up in Portland’s East End neighborhood, Richard ‘Dickie’ Balzano didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew service to his community would be central to it. His parents encouraged him to take an active role in helping others and military service had long been a part of their family history. “They were proud Americans,” he remembers. “They would always ask what I was going to do for my country.”
A cousin recommended pursuing a degree at Maine Maritime Academy and Balzano quickly realized that it would be a good fit, providing him with ample opportunity to explore various career opportunities. “I wanted a challenge,” he says. “I wanted to try as many things as I could to find out what I might really like.”
“[These vessels] will change how we train the next generation of mariners and how we respond to natural and humanitarian crises.”
Balzano excelled at MMA, finding both professional opportunities and personal fulfillment through friendships with his new peers. As he got to know his classmates and their families, he was exposed to the possibilities of what a career in the military offered. “I found folks that were really focused on joining the military. When I arrived as a MUG it was exactly what I wanted to do, but the more I got exposed to its culture – especially the Special Operations community – the more I felt it would fit very well.”
After graduation, Balzano embarked upon what would become a 30 year career,
Wayne Wardwell has moved to Vero Beach, Florida.
George Leonard would like to share with his classmates, “Jane and I spent a wonderful day with classmate Captain George William (“Bill”) MacKay USN (Ret.) recently in Newport, Rhode Island. We had been planning to get together for some time, but, of course, the pandemic canceled those plans. Bill is living in an elegant assisted-living facility in Middletown, RI, where he has been in residence since the fall of 2018. Bill is battling a bad case of Parkinson’s Disease; his spirits are great, he is his usual witty self and still full of sea stories. We ventured forth and lunched very nicely at Bill’s favorite near-by restaurant. Saying good-bye was rough. Bill doesn’t do well with a cell phone; he likes to get snail mail for those who might like to drop him a line: Blenheim-Newport, 303 Valley Road Middletown, Rhode Island 02842. Best to all hands, Cap.”
Alfred LaBonte reports, “Sandy and I are luckily doing fine. Both retired and enjoying life as much as we can in spite of COVID restrictions. We have our health (80 years old version), all my hair, most of my teeth and 11 wonderful grandchildren. Life is good!”
CAPT. HOLLY NAJARIAN ’91 took a leap of faith during her freshman cruise and switched from deck to engine, and that leap made a huge impact on the direction of her career. For example, when she first entered the Coast Guard, she was in a marine inspector training billet. Learning ship systems and numerous regulations and procedures was much easier due to her engineering background.
While at MMA, Najarian was involved with the regimental preparatory training, was the Academy’s first female Regimental Operations Officer as well as the first female Navy ROTC battalion commander, played on the men’s lacrosse team, and ran cross country. She remembers that even though she didn’t feel like a “real” runner, Coach Dennis Weeks and his wife Carol inspired her, so much so that she would be running in the dark on the streets of Castine well after everyone else had finished.
Najarian’s MMA experience allowed her to tackle challenging assignments from Portsmouth, NH to DC, Boston to Jax. In St. Petersburg, FL, she led all Coast Guard missions throughout Florida’s western coast (600 nautical mile coastline and 3 major seaports), and exercised authorities as Captain of the Port, Officer in Charge Marine Inspection, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, SAR Mission Coordinator and Activity Suspension Authority. She chaired the Area Maritime Security Committee, Harbor Safety & Security Committee, and Area Committee, and led an active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce with over 700 members. Having direct oversight of 6 Coast Guard cutters, 5 search and rescue stations, an Aids to Navigation Team, a medical clinic, a galley, a $4.7 million budget, and 7 CG properties, she also provided direct logistical support to 7 tenant commands.
Gary Whitney and wife Susan are summering in Gray, Maine and live in Ormond Beach, Florida.
MMA wishes to recognize and thank the members of the Class of 1966 for their generous contribution of over $6,200, made during the Eight Bells ceremony of their 55th summer reunion on campus in August. David O’Connor (class agent) and the Class of 1966 presented the donation to Chris Haley, VP for Advancement, in honor of their deceased classmates.
Captain Mark Robinson (left) was presented with a Quilts of Valor quilt at the June meeting of the South Baldwin Republican Women to honor his military service to our country. The quilt was presented by the South Baldwin Republican Women and Joyce Reed (right) of Mobile, a representative of the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
Captain Robinson was hired by Lykes Brothers Steamship Company and made many perilous voyages to and from Vietnam during wartime. Each voyage typically lasted 90 days or longer, after which a 90-day “vacation” was mandatory. On each of the vacations, Captain Robinson returned to a school for Merchant Marines in “Mitag” in Lithecum Heights, Maryland.
Over the years, Captain Robinson received his Captain license and continued sailing for 30 years. He sailed all over the world with Lykes Brothers Steamship Company. He encountered rough waters, storms and pirates but also made many smooth journeys. (GulfCoast News Today, 7/13/2021)
FOLLOWING GRADUATION in 2012, Luke Nielson landed a position with a fast growing tech company. Being a quick study with a strong work ethic, the IBL graduate was given extensive responsibility and was instrumental in building the brand into a highly reputable player in the industry.
Having ‘side hustles’ helped scratch his entrepreneurial itch. In 2015, he started Seasonal Maine, selling Maine-made items. It grew rapidly, shipping over 25,000 products from his basement to customers around the world in four short years. Prior to selling the business, Seasonal Maine was buying whoopie pies by the pallet!
Nielson’s entrepreneurial spirit has become his primary focus and he is fully self-employed. He founded Big Funnel B2B, working as a technical consultant for business-to-business software companies. “The freedom is nice, but prioritizing correctly can be difficult. You know approximately where you want to end up but the distance between there and where you stand today is wide open.”
As if he isn’t busy enough, he founded Best of Maine, a digital media company. Best of Maine boasts the largest digital audience in the Maine niche, with almost 500,000 subscribers. He notes that Best of Maine is “different because we’re a marketing agency with a built-in audience. We’ve created content and run great ad campaigns for clients like MaineHealth, Reny’s, and many others.”
So how did MMA prepare him for these enterprises? “Above all, MMA taught me to quickly adapt and push through obstacles to get the job done. I’m not sure I would have the same appreciation for determination and grit today if I didn’t spend my college years in a community of such hardworking and humble people.”
Truly an entrepreneur,
Robert Ahaesy is retired and lives with wife Alexandra in La Quinta, CA.
Thanks to Ron Ieva who sent a couple of class notes: “A Celebration of Life was recently held for Bucky Vaughn in Hancock, Maine. As with all such events, it was a bitter-sweet affair as five classmates reminisced about our experiences at MMA with Bucky. Sail on, Bucky. Sail on!” Also, Ieva and Ray Lessard stopped into Ron Berthiaume’s home in Dayton, ME for lunch. Top photo: L to R is David Theriault, Herb Michaud, Bob Blackmore, Ron Ieva, and Bob Lindvall. Bottom Ron Berthiaume, Ron Ieva, and Ray Lessard.
Carl Woodman was inducted into the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame during the 14th Annual Induction Banquet. Woodman was a 1964 graduate of Rockland District High School. He was a three sport athlete in high school, participating in basketball, baseball and track. Woodman was most noted for his basketball skills, being an outstanding shooter. His high school team competed in the Eastern Maine Class AA league, making it to the Eastern Maine Final his senior year. Woodman was voted to the Eastern AA All Tourney team and 2nd team All State his senior year. At Maine Maritime Academy Woodman was a varsity basketball team member all four years. He was voted All Conference and team MVP his sophomore, junior and senior years. After graduation from MMA, he coached at various levels. He was an assistant to varsity coach Chris Elkington at RDHS during the 1990s. (Wiscasset Newspaper, 7/19/2021)
Dr. John Gaddis was recently inducted into the first cohort of the Maine Wild Blueberry Hall of Fame. Gaddis, best known as a family doctor in his native East Machias, ME, is the remaining owner of the sixth-generation Gaddis Brothers business, which was established in 1892. Gaddis has been a decades-long board member of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, which he continues today. “It’s tradition and it’s in my blood. It’s kind of automatic. And I have a keen interest in how wild blueberries sell.” (Machias Valley Observer 7/14/2021)
Benny Pratt sailed on ocean-going tug boats for 10 years after graduation, then spent 25 years as a college facilities manager. When Pratt learned that his godfather, 88-year-old Benny Beal, had permanently hauled his lobster boat Stella Ann out of the water, Pratt was inspired to find a good home for the vessel. Beal was barely out of his teenage years when he set about building a small working lobster boat that would become a racing legend. The Stella Ann was used for inshore fishing: lobstering, seining, and, as many fishermen did in those days, racing at the Moosabec World’s Fastest Lobster Boat Races on the 4th of July. Beal “took on all comers who, for many years, saw only his stern.” Recently, Pratt assisted Beal in moving the Stella Ann to its final berth at the Beals Historical Society. Pratt is retired and lives with wife Lorraine in Morrill, ME. (Machias Valley Observer 5/11/2021)
Roger Arsenault was inducted into the Maine Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame at the 19th Annual Maine Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame banquet in October at Sugarloaf. Arsenault is the Director of Alpine Racing Operations and Nordic programs at Black Mt., chairman of Chisholm Ski Club, and former alpine ski racer. This incoming class will bring the number of those honored to 160, whose biographies can be found on the Museum’s website: maineskiandsnowboardmuseum.org.
Glenn Gould wrote in that he “retired from Texaco and Naval Reserve. Great School!”
Lawrence (Russ) Morrison retired in 2016 as Senior Manager of Construction Change Orders for the MBTA in Boston. “50 years ago I never dreamed that I would be finishing my career working on a railroad. My wife Ruth and I have raised and educated four kids and in the last five years they have blessed us with five grandchildren. Currently we are all healthy and happy living in Plymouth, Massachusetts, America’s hometown. Closest I get to the water is the pool in my backyard. Classmates are welcome to join me for a dip if they are in the neighborhood.”
Leo Hill has retired as Director of Facilities from a local housing authority. He shipped out for 23 years and retired from American Airlines after flying for 35 years. He summers at Small Point, ME.
Leslie Crane is retired and lives in Portland, ME.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Michael Jaccoma, of Davie, to the Board of Pilot Commissioners. Jaccoma is a harbor pilot for Biscayne Bay Pilots. He currently serves as vice-chair on the Board of Pilot Commissioners and has been actively engaged in the piloting profession in Florida since 1988. Jaccoma is a United States Coast Guard Licensed Unlimited Master with a First Class Pilot Endorsement for the Port of Miami.
Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray welcomed TS State of Maine Capt. Gordon ‘Mac’ MacArthur ’00, and presented him with a traditional plaque to commemorate the vessel’s inaugural visit. The vessel is carrying 177 cadets on the second of three training cruises for 2021, which began July 7 from its homeport in Castine, Maine. “The future of the maritime industry depends on the education and learning experiences of these cadets,” Murray said. “We are proud to host this training ship at our port and wish all aboard great success with their sea term.” (Seatrade Cruise News 6/22/2021)
Terence Gilvey sent a picture of him and 1977 freshmen cruise roommate Gary Henry, taken in St. George, Bermuda NAS. “We were short of funds with a couple of days still left in Bermuda. Capt. Brennan recommended the Officers’ Club at Bermuda NAS to everyone as a reasonably-priced place to go ashore. The catch: you had to wear your Summer Whites. As near as we can tell, we were the only ones who went. We wound up hanging out with a P-3 squadron from Brunswick who took great care of us. As they were leaving, they introduced us to the flight officers of a Canadian Forces Argus. They not only treated us well, we were invited to fly with them. Capt. Brennan approved and the next day we flew an 18-hour mission with the Canadian Forces. Here we are showing off our flight suits. When we turned them in, the Brunswick guys wanted us to fly with them, too. Unfortunately, it was our last day in Bermuda. We did get a tour of a P-3, though. We should have gone to the O Club a day earlier.”
Steven Sellers reports he is retired and living in Manheim, PA.
Capt. John Gazzola was working a ship job this spring and came across a classmate and fellow MMA graduate on the vessel OSG Vision. Pictured are (L to R) Captain John Gazzola ’82, Excel Hydraulics; Chief Engineer Bob Elwell ’82, OSG; and Chief Mate Jim Geaumont ‘11, OSG.
Marc Gousse, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System since July 2016, plans to retire effective Jan. 1, 2022. He was superintendent of schools in Westbrook prior to going to MDI, and before that he was principal of Westbrook High School. Gousse has a doctorate in educational leadership from California Coast University and served 23 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve.
Deborah (Lieberman) Moore retired in 2019 and says she is “about to take delivery of a Palm Beach 70 to resume ‘messing around in boats.’”
Mick Burke (right) met up with Fred Amicangioli on Memorial Day weekend at a WarBird Fly In air show near Atlanta. Burke explains, “Fred came down from Alaska to take part in the show. He is a member of the organization that put on the show. We got caught up on what we have been doing for the last 39 years. I attached a picture, Fred looks the same as the last time I saw him at our graduation.”
Kenneth O’Brien just returned from Italy after 16 years where he was an active duty commander and also worked as a GS civilian for Commander, Naval Forces Europe/Commander, Sixth Fleet. He now works for SAIC and lives in Norfolk with wife Deborah.
Skip Strong sent an image of ’84 alumni on the bridge wing of the State of Maine after return of Cruise A this spring. Pictured are (L to R) Chris Brown, cruise watch officer; Dave Gelinas, PenBay Pilot; and Sandy Cameron, Chief Engineer, TSSOM.
After nearly three decades at sea, Capt. Scott Lund recently published a book, “Sea State,” that describes a harrowing voyage at sea in a time less refined and regulated, truly a world away in all respects. All profits from this book are contributed to animal welfare organizations.
John Balano writes, “Greetings shipmates! I’m entering my third year at the Hydromechanics Lab at the Naval Academy, and can look back and credit Maine Maritime Academy with having provided me with all the professional tools to make this career move exciting. Whether we are testing a new hull design or sending waves down the tank to test a Wave Energy Converter, each day I reflect on the amazing set of life skills that all began on matriculating at MMA. In what is perhaps no coincidence, I’ve had the good fortune to have daughters and nieces of my MMA classmates in the various Ocean Engineering Labs that I facilitate. Outside of work, my wife Sharon and I sail our Irwin 28 around the Chesapeake Bay. Also, recently I was able to meet up with Doug Griggs ’84 and assist him in judging the high school “Cargo Ship Challenge” sponsored by the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Enjoying the occasional yacht delivery or sailboat race down the bay, staying at sea remains a large part of life.” The Balanos live in Chesapeake Beach, MD.
“Reaching out because I know these two outstanding men won’t, and I am so proud of them. Captain Kevin Farrin ’02 and Chief Engineer David Perkins ’85 had an exciting day christening the USNS John Lewis. Above is a picture of them with actress/advocate Alfre Woodard, who was a Sponsor. Making MMA proud!” Submitted by Kate Otto.
John Curtis is program manager for Clean Harbors Environmental Services of So. Portland, ME. He and wife Mary live in Casco.
MMA is well represented onboard the Noble Globetrotter 2 as we support Shell’s oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world. Pictured L to R, Tanner Littlefield ’17, Cliff Jackson ’08, Garth Pulkkinen ’95 and Richard Lawrence ’86.
Bill O’Reilly is reaching out to any MMA alumni living or passing near Yokosuka Navy Base, Japan. He is the regional operations manager for Noresco, LLC. He and his wife will be there for the next few years. Contact email@example.com and we will pass along O’Reilly’s contact information.
MMA alumni gathered for some refreshments in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in March while at the Florida Marine Center. Pictured are: Jim Mundth ’89, Tim Reid ’88, Kevin Arruda ’88, Steve Moglia ’87 and Eric Smith ’88.
Bruce Leonard is Marketing Engineer, Modifications and Upgrades for Siemens Demag Delaval Turbomachinery, Inc. out of New Jersey. He and wife Emily live in Lowell, ME and have two adult sons, Steven and Patrick.
Eric King reported that the Propeller Club of Seattle held an outdoor networking event in June at Golden Gardens Park in Ballard. While catching up with maritime industry friends, the organization donated all proceeds from the event to support the El Faro Salute! memorial being created by
Jay Sawyer ’83.
Capt. Sam Pearson is an assistant professor at Cal Maritime and was recently published in the April 2021 edition of Professional Mariner. The title of Pearson’s article is “E-learning can boost understanding of nav rules, reduce accidents.”
Longtime ABS executive John McDonald became the company’s Executive Vice President and COO at the end of July. McDonald took on the head operations role on July 26. He has extensive experience at ABS: he joined the class society in 1996 as a surveyor and served in frontline operational roles in Korea, the Northern Europe and Africa Region, and the former Americas Division. He held the position of Vice President of Occupational Health and Safety for both ABS and ABS Group, and he led the former ABS Divisions in Europe and in the Pacific. McDonald also held operational leadership roles, including SVP of Western Hemisphere Survey Operations and (most recently) SVP of Global Business Development and the Global Marine market sector. He holds an MBA from Texas A&M University. (The Maritime Executive, 7/6/2021)
Jimmy L’Italien posted this picture on LinkedIn stating, “After 26+ years of shift work and power plants, I had the opportunity to take on this new adventure! JIMMY’S General Store, Turner, ME (formerly Angello’s). You can’t become successful if you never take the chance.” Good luck, Jim.
Capt. John Amaro, Marty (Baker) Page and Capt. Dan Page ’94 enjoyed dinner together this summer on Saint Thomas. The Pages were in town to drop off their daughter at UVI. Their son, Robert, is a member of the Class of 2021.
Allan K. Cameron is a retired police chief and is now an over the road truck driver for Freightworks Transportation. Cameron and wife Cheryl married in March and live in Sparks, NV.
William Kelley is Operations and Maintenance Supervisor for Duke Energy and lives in Debary, FL.
Michael Furrow is Regional Sales Director for Siemens Energy, Inc. and lives with wife Abbie in Plano, TX.
Seth Brown is the Director of Finance and Operations at George Stevens Academy, Blue Hill, ME. Most recently, Brown was director of business development for Gateway Title of Maine. Brown resides in Frankfort with wife Mariko, and children Wade, Mayako, and Sachiko.
Brent Cole works for Chevron as a Power Generation Consultant and notes his employment address as Tenzig, Kazakhstan.
Old friends from the Class of 1999, Wes Pooler, Capt. Jennifer Brokaw, and Capt. Clarence Young, connected for a short visit in Virginia Beach over the Memorial Day weekend.
David Wilson, Director of Facilities for Avanir Pharmaceuticals in Aliso Viego, CA, was recently featured in Blueprint, a magazine that puts a spotlight on the facilities professionals who are imagining, creating, and maintaining better spaces.
Jay Stewart ’00D, Jered Norton ’00E and Tom Norton ’71E met up in Charleston (SC) while the Nortons were in town for a wedding. They haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years. “It was great to catch up!”
Capt. Gordon MacArthur shared an image from the bridge wing of the TSSOM during its recent visit to Port Canaveral, FL. (L to R) Capt. John Cashman, Commandant, MMA; Capt. Nate Cerato ’04, apprentice Pilot; Capt. “Mac” MacArthur ’00, Master – TSSOM; and Capt. Sean Morrissey ’03, Pilot.
Ronald Perry lives in Stewartsville, NJ with wife Leigh and two children Mitchell and June. He works as a Sandy Hook Pilot, although he tries to go fishing as much as he can. Capt. Perry says, “Hello classmates! I took this year to complete a lifelong goal of building my own boat. This boat is for drifting rivers and fishing. I wish you all health and happiness.”
Share what you’ve been doing with your fellow alumni. Tell us about career changes, latest achievements, hobbies and adventures. Photos welcome. Submit Alumni News or Class Notes Now.