William Leavitt ’49

PORTLAND – William (Bill) Leavitt was born on May 5, 1928, to Ruth and Ralph Leavitt, of Stroudwater, Portland. He was named after his great-grandfather, Capt. William Leavitt, aptly as the ocean and particularly Portland’s waterfront became an indelible part of his life. When Bill’s father, Ralph Leavitt, was in the state legislature, he led the move to create the Maine Maritime Academy. In 1941, Bill inadvertently became part of the opening ceremony of the Academy. No one had a key to the Pentagoet, the Inn which was to become a student dorm. Bill was lifted to an open window to crawl in and open the front door so the ceremony could begin. So began his lifetime connection to the sea. In summer during high school, he worked on the tugboats in Portland harbor. After two years at Deering HS, he attended the Putney School in Vermont. After graduation in 1946, he attended Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, graduating in 1949 as part of the first “3 year” program. He has remained close to the 49-ers, attending alumni gatherings through the years.
After graduation at MMA, Bill worked for American Export Lines until called into the Navy in 1953 where he served as Lt. J.G. on the USS Eldorado for two years in California during the Korean conflict. While stationed in Coronado, Calif., he met Rho, who became his wife in 1955, after Bill returned to Portland to join his father in the family shipping business, Chase Leavitt & Co. At Chase Leavitt, he also served as a Lloyd’s of London agent for Maine and was a certified Marine Surveyor (NAMS).
Bill was a long time member of the Portland Rotary Club and Portland Marine Society, where he served on the board as president and treasurer. He also served on the board of the Maine Maritime Alumni Association, Maine Maritime Museum, and Portland Harbor Museum. He was honored at a luncheon at Lloyd’s of London in 1994 commemorating Chase Leavitt’s 100 year service and honored again at Rotary with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award.
Bill was immensely proud of his children and grandchildren and enjoyed attending their activities and spending holidays surrounded by family. The family summered on an island in Sebago Lake, co-owned by dear friends, the Bancroft and Freeman families. When Bill purchased the island with his two friends, they were told by a banker that multiple ownership doesn’t work. Yet in 2007, several generations celebrated 50 years of successful co-ownership. In the winter, the family could be found skiing at Sunday River, and in fall hiking the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire, often with their extended “island family.”
For a number of years, Bill and Rho headed to Tucson, Ariz., for winter months and enjoyed the desert life, the view of the Santa Catalina mountains and the beautiful night skies. After 56 years residing in Cape Elizabeth, Bill and Rho moved to OceanView Retirement Community in Falmouth in 2013 and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends on July 10, 2015.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Rho; his children Jenzy and husband Jon Halls, Jonathan and wife Robin, and Alison; grandchildren Michael, Kevin, and Christy Halls, Sierra, Jeremy, and Neva Leavitt, and Sophia and Nico Leavitt; brother-in-law Warren Francke and wife Carol; and nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.
The gathering to celebrate Bill’s life will be held at OceanView, 20 Blueberry Rd., Falmouth, on Aug. 12, from 2-4 p.m. Please advise Alison Leavitt if you plan to attend, at aleavitt@wssa.com Arrangements were made by
Hobbs Funeral Home
, 230 Cottage Rd., South Portland. Online condolences may be shared at

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Maine Maritime Academy, “Class of 1949 Memorial Scholarship Fund” and be sent to
Maine Maritime Academy
Development Office
Pleasant Street
Castine, Maine 04420
or visit https://mainemaritime.edu/
and click on Support MMA