One of a kind: Charlie Sturdee
One day when I was in a store, a woman came up to me and said, ”You are the cemetery lady, aren’t you?” That was a new title, but I do write "Who's Who at Mountain View," so guess that might qualify me. When I acknowledged that I was, she wanted to know if I had seen the grave stone that said “Finally” on it.
I had not, so we went to the cemetery to look at it. She was bothered by its meaning. Did his wife say “Finally” or what? I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it was Charlie Sturdee because it was so much like what he would say. He was always laughing and telling a joke, so I filler her in, ”Charlie was sick for a while before his death, and he couldn’t do all the things he loved to do. So, I feel he thought that when he died, his pain and discomfort was finally over.” He was a person who lived, while he was living.
Later, after that encounter, I talked with his wife and she said he had the stone engraved and placed there before his death.
Charles Rodney Sturdee was born July 7, 1926, in Stonington, the son of Arthur and Alma Scott Sturdee. He and his two sisters were raised by their grandparents and attended school in South Portland. He spent two years in the United States Army. He married Virginia Lassonde and after coming to Camden they had a son, Scott.
Camden had only a night watchman when I was growing up. John Rainfrette and Charles Sturdee were hired as policemen. Charlie graduated from the Maine State Police Academy in 1956 and he spent 19 years with Camden Police Department. When he began working they had no police cruiser. The is a red light hanging on a wire from the restaurant “Cappys” across Main Street to the Adams Block, on the corner of Main and Mechanic Streets. The watchman was in the police station and lockup, where the Town Assessor is today. If he had a call, he would put on the red light and the police would go to the station to see for what they were needed.
When the movie “Peyton Place” was filmed here in 1957, John and Charlie were the police on duty. It was a busy and exciting time for the town of Camden. There were the movie stars, director and crews that were here to help. Also Camden people were extras in the film and many sightseers watched the much-talked about story being filmed. Our two policemen kept traffic under control.
In November 1960, Charlie married Nancy Gray, a local teacher and they raised two sons, Charles Rodney Jr., and Shawn. They hosted many clubs and family parties, the largest one in 1992 being a family reunion with about 80 people attending.
Charlie had various jobs over the years, as manager of the Farmers’ Union, a guard at Maine State Prison, on Knox County Sheriffs’ Department, Camden Highway Department and Pine Point School located on Chestnut Street, and custodian at the Opera House and town offices.
He was active in the American Legion Post 30, Maine Association of Retirees, and President of the Hatchet Mountain Snowmobile Club. Charlie also enjoyed being in local theatre productions including “Guys & Dolls,” “Fantastics,” and an Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry production. He sang in several Minstrel shows.
Charlie had many loves. They were first of all his wife, Nancy. He loved his four children: Scott, Rhonda, Charles Rodney (Rod) and Shawn as well as his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved anything with wheels like his trucks, riding mower and especially his motorcycles. He was well known cruising through town on his bike with Nancy on back, and his white beard and long white hair flowing in the breeze. He was quite often in local parades on his VW trike and his wife Nancy or daughter Rhonda on the back seat. He owned several motorcycles over the years. He was an active member of the Blue Knights, United Bikers of Maine, the Retreads, and Bay Area Riders. Charlie loved his dog Sam that he had early on, and his two cats Dolly and Honey that came later in life.
He even learned to love watching the Red Sox games and sometimes with Zeb. He could play the harmonica and the spoons. Charlie loved life and lived it to the fullest.
Charlie R. Sturdee died March 10, 2008, with a celebration of life taking place in the spring. His humor is missed by his many friends.