Camden remembers 'Pepe'
Camden — Friends of Terry Voisine — known by many simply as "Pepe" — remember a kind, intelligent man who was a familiar face in Camden for roughly three decades.
Voisine, 56, died unexpectedly Dec. 5 at the residence where he was staying in Camden.
Born in upstate New York, Voisine spent his formative years in Fort Kent before coming to the Midcoast area as a construction foreman during the construction of Harbor Plaza in Rockland, according to Kim McQuinn Clarke, a friend of Voisine's and longtime bartender at Gilbert's Public House, formerly the Bay View St. Garage, in Camden — where Voisine was a fixture. Clarke and former Gilbert's Public House bartender Stacey Yandell, who is the granddaughter of the late Jim Gilbert, recalled Voisine as the man who spent his afternoons reading at the bar. The women noted Voisine would strike up a conversation with nearly anyone.
"He was one of the biggest goodwill ambassadors for Camden," Clarke said.
She noted Voisine was known for welcoming complete strangers and she said he could find common ground with nearly anyone.
"He knew a lot about a lot of things," said Yandell. "He would talk to anyone who was around him."
Clarke's sentiment was echoed by Terry and Denise Fitzpatrick, both of whom were longtime friends of Voisine. Until 2006, the Fitzpatrick family owned and operated Fitzpatrick's Deli on Bay View Landing in Camden. Terry Fitzpatrick said he first met Voisine when he hired him to help build an addition on the family home in Camden.
Terry Fitzpatrick said he bestowed the nickname "Pepe" on Voisine, likening him to the notoriously amorous cartoon skunk Pepe le Pew.
While Voisine did not have family in Camden, he was embraced by locals in a way that made the community his surrogate family, said friends. Clarke and Yandell said Voisine's routine involved holding court at a variety of local establishments including Cappy's, Fitzpatricks, Gilbert's and The Waterfront.
Terry Fitzpatrick noted Voisine had an incredible intellect and an astute mechanical mind, and was often called upon to troubleshoot issues at the businesses he frequented.
"At one point in time I think he had keys to Fitzy's, Cappy's and Gilberts," said Yandell.
He frequently received calls at his favorite establishments from business owners and staff, looking for Voisine to consult on any crisis, from plumbing to carpentry.
Denise Fitzpatrick noted that Voisine was a friend to the Fitzpatricks' sons, Brian, 30, and Russell, 28.
"He was extremely good to our boys," she said.
She recalled Voisine was always helpful in assisting with a broken toy — and later the occasional vehicle repair — as her sons grew up.
"He could figure anything out," said Terry Fitzpatrick. "He had a mind for everything."
Voisine assisted Terry Fitzpatrick in constructing the family camp in Elliotsville where he traveled with a group of 10 to 12 men, often including other local notables like Ken Bailey, for camp weekends.
Brian and Russell Fitzpatrick both referred to Voisine as "an uncle."
In an email, Brian Fitzpatrick recalled Voisine's presence at his home when he was a boy and his father was working long hours at the restaurant. He wrote that Voisine was always patient with him and Russell and always kind. As he got older, his relationship with Voisine continued. He noted after the closure of Fitzpatrick's, he was able to spend even more time with Voisine on those ice fishing trips to Elliotsville and during remodeling of the Brewer home he shares with his wife and young daughter.
"Last fall and winter Pepe and my father traveled to Brewer just about every weekend to help me remodel my house. Pepe wanted a place to sleep, food and drink, and he was happy; he knew I couldn't afford to pay him him. I will always feel as though I owe him for that, he had a heart of gold," Brian Fitzpatrick wrote.
Russell Fitzpatrick said Voisine also helped with remodeling the Yarmouth home he owns with his wife. Voisine was working there just days before he passed away.
"Everywhere we look there's a piece of him," Russell Fitzpatrick noted, referring to the numerous projects Voisine helped create.
Russell Fitzpatrick said Voisine quickly became dear to both his wife, Meghan, and his brother's wife, Caitlin.
"They quickly became accustomed to Uncle Pepe," he said with a laugh.
One of the biggest take-away lessons from knowing Voisine was his total lack of judgment toward others, Russell Fitzpatrick said.
"He was genuine to the 10th degree, he didn't judge a soul, it's something we can all learn from," he said. "You never know someone's story, and you should always take them for who they are."
Wind Tracy of Lincolnville was a bartender at Cappy's "on-and-off for 15 years." He noted there was a time when he saw Voisine more than he saw his wife, since he was always at work and Voisine was a loyal patron.
Tracy remembers a generous man who was full of stories and always willing to lend a hand, even when there was no payment involved.
"He was constantly donating his weekends to help somebody with a construction project," Tracy said. "He was one of the true proponents of the barter system."
Terry Fitzpatrick said Voisine was always the first to help with numerous community fundraisers hosted over the years at Fitpatrick's, whether he was charged with selling raffle tickets or helping behind the scenes, he was always willing to lend a hand.
Brian Fitzpatrick noted Voisine's notorious love of reading, which he noticed even as a child.
"I will always remember him sitting there and reading, man did he love to read," he wrote.
Yandell expressed a similar impression of Voisine.
"He was best noted for being at the bar with a book," she said.
Voisine's literary preferences were diverse, said Terry Fitzpatrick, noting Voisine would read practically any book recommended to him. Voisine read a great number of non-fiction titles, said Tracy, and loved the horse-racing themed mysteries authored by Dick Francis.
Voisine never owned a home in Camden, said Terry and Denise Fitzpatrick. He rented rooms and apartments over the years and sometimes relied on the hospitality of his friends within the community.
"I think he stayed in this area because he met so many people," said Clarke. "He got along with everyone."
Tracy and Brian Fitzpatrick both expressed their affection for Voisine's outlandish stories.
"I will never forget his laugh, smile, outrageous stories — which I know were exaggerated but were still funny even after the 10th time hearing them," Brian Fitzpatrick wrote.
Tracy said Voisine would entertain people for "hours and hours and hours" at Cappy's. He said he knows of visitors that journey to Camden regularly, and he's convinced Voisine's hospitable and entertaining nature is partially responsible for their affinity for the area.
On Dec. 7, an informal ceremony took place at Cappy's to "retire" Voisine's mug. The establishment plans to adhere an engraved plaque to Voisine's favorite stool in his memory, said manager Kelly MacDonald.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14, at Long Funeral Home from 5 to 7 p.m. A reception at Cuzzy's will follow.
"It was quite amazing how many people [Voisine] knew," said Russell Fitzpatrick, "I consider my family extremely lucky."
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.