H. Frank Trautmann
Rockport — H. Frank Trautmann, 93, died in Rockport on May 11, 2014.
Frank was born May 11, 1921 in Nyack, N.Y. His mother immigrated to the U.S. from Germany during World War I; his father was a banker in New York City. After graduating from Deerfield Academy in 1938 and Amherst College in 1942, Frank went into the Navy, where he served as captain of an ocean-going tugboat in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he married Gail Greenhalgh and worked first as treasurer in a textile mill in Pawtucket, R.I., and then as vice president of his brother’s printing business in Syosset, N.Y. Following Gail’s death in 1957, he married Margery Guerra, a music and elementary school teacher on Long Island. She died in 2006.
Always drawn to the sea, Frank and Margery purchased a summer home on Islesboro in 1960 and moved there year-round in 1968. In 1990, they purchased a home in Rockport, where they spent winters initially and later lived year-round.
Frank’s passion was to serve others through volunteer work. For four decades, he managed operations of the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), a network of ham radio operators who received messages from overseas servicemen and delivered them to families stateside before email and cell phones.
During the late 1960s, Frank and his son began a tradition of hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail each year, starting at Katahdin in Baxter State Park. After reaching the White Mountains years later, Frank returned to Baxter and offered to volunteer.
For nearly three decades, he maintained the second section of the Appalachian Trail, from Mile 5.2 at Katahdin Stream campground south to the Baxter State Park boundary. Each year, often working alone, he cleared blow-downs, rebuilt bridges, and strove to create the best possible experience for hikers. He cut his own trees on Islesboro, milled them into the components for lean-tos, and transported them in a modified boat trailer to be assembled at the Park. During winters, he made the trail signs for the entire Appalachian Trail in Maine, milling his own cedar and then routing and painting the signs by hand. When forced to give up trail work at age 79 to help Margery cope with cancer, he had six operating chain saws and thousands of board feet of self-milled lumber drying in his barn.
What Frank loved most about Baxter State Park, however, was its people. He never failed to mention the Park’s wonderful staff and volunteers and how they inspired him to do his best for the hikers and campers they all served.
Following several decades of legal work, Frank and Margery were able to donate their Islesboro residence to the Campaign for Katahdin Lake in 2006. Their gift completed the funding for a key parcel of land that had eluded Governor Baxter in assembling the Park years earlier. The acquisition in effect completed Governor Baxter's original dream and helped keep the Park forever wild by preventing commercial development around this pristine lake.
Frank's establishment of the Baxter Park Wilderness Fund, modeled on Baxter's own trusts, also provides annual funding for the Park. As a founding member of Friends of Baxter State Park, Frank also provided generous support for special projects, including trail restoration and re-construction, publication of Baxter-related books of historical importance, and a new edition of the Park's guidebook.
In reflecting on his contributions to Baxter, Jensen Bissell, Park Director, said, “Frank has given countless hours of labor and love to the trails, facilities, and people of Baxter State Park. His economical, considerate, and fastidious approach to work and life have served as a model for all of us at the Park.”
Buzz Caverly, former Park director, added “Other than Governor Baxter, Frank Trautmann has contributed more to the operation and preservation of the Park than any other individual. I am deeply honored to have known and worked with him.”
Frank will be remembered as a remarkably generous, staunchly independent, highly principled, and private person. He is survived by his three children, Patricia (John) O’Neil, of Deerfield, Va.; Emilie Trautmann (Jason Stewart) of New Paltz, N.Y.; Charles (Nancy) Trautmann of Ithaca, N.Y.; two grandchildren Nina (Patrick) Chaopricha of Ithaca, N.Y., and Eric Trautmann of Stanford, Calif.; and one great-grandchild Anya Chaopricha.
The family plans to hold a celebration of Frank’s life in August. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Friends of Baxter State Park, P.O. Box 609, Union, Maine 04862; or through friendsofbaxter.org. Condolences may be shared with the Trautmann family at longfuneralhomecamden.com. Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain St., Camden.