CAMDEN — Over the course of many years as a local writer, speaker and Camden Herald columnist, Barbara F. Dyer worked to keep the people of this community from being forgotten. Now it is our turn to remember and honor her.

Dyer died on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Rockport. She was 97.

She graduated from Camden High School in 1942. She wanted to be a teacher and had started taking college courses, according to past articles in VillageSoup.

After graduation she found work at Camden Shipbuilding & Marine Railways Company, which would become Wayfarer Marine. World War II had begun during her senior year in school, and doing this work allowed her to help in the effort. The company was building vessels that would be deployed in the fighting.

Dyer worked in the payroll department and studied accounting through LaSalle Extension University for three years to get her diploma.

“While going to high school, I knew that I never wanted to work in an office,” she wrote in 2014. “Yet, that is where I spent 44 years as office manager and accountant at Wayfarer Marine. But that was my first life, and I must have liked it.”

“Quite by accident, in my second life, I began to write and lecture, but never had a notion that I would do that,” she told her readers in 2014. “While still working, I had kept scrapbook clippings and pictures at the Shipyard about building vessels for the World War II effort and later wooden pleasure yachts. Building had gone on in Camden, off and on, since 1800, yet there was not any history of it at the library… So, I would put a nice scrapbook together. On my lunch hour I would go to The Camden Herald office and research the Bean Yard and early clippings that told about all the small shipyards at the Head of the Harbor (Camden Public Library property.) I would type it every night, and before I realized what was happening, it became a book, ‘Grog Ho! The History of Wooden Vessel Building in Camden.’”

Barbara Dyer’s author photo for her book, “Grog Ho.” Photo by Mark Haskell,

Camden Public Library Director, Nellie Hart, asked Dyer to give a talk.

“One newspaper said it would be on Tuesday evening and the other paper said it would be on Wednesday evening. I was in the generation where you were ‘seen but not heard,’ so oral themes in high school were torture for all of us. I asked Nellie what we were going to do, because the papers made an error. She said, ‘I will open the library both nights, if you will come.’ I did …and have been talking ever since. I even taught three sessions of ‘Local History’ in Adult Education for about seven years, as well as one on ‘Public Speaking’ and one on ‘Antiques.’”

“My high school English teacher was right in the front row for every class I taught, enjoying it all,” Dyer added.

Dyer wrote columns on history for The Camden Herald, VillageSoup and The Penobscot Bay Pilot.

She is the author of history books including “Grog Ho!,” “Vintage Views,” “History of the First Congregational Church,” “Images of Camden and Rockport,” “Vessel Building,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Memories of Camden,” “More Memories of Camden,” “Streets are Paved with Gold,” “Remembering Camden” and “Who’s Who at Mountain View” volumes I and II.

She tried to retire a few times from column-writing and was even taken out to a luncheon to celebrate her retirement at one point. Before long, however, editors at The Camden Herald noticed that her column kept arriving and so we continued to publish them.

Barbara Dyer poses for a 1984 photo in The Camden Herald.

She found she could not stay away for long.

Dyer was honored in 2015 by the Camden Rotary Club with a Paul Harris Award. “The award, named in honor of Rotary International’s founder, recognizes Dyer’s work chronicling the history of Camden and its many distinctive personalities. Her stories and photos in books and newspaper columns have done much to keep Camden’s rich history alive and relevant to residents and visitors today.”

In 2021, she received an award from the Maine Press Association for her column, Making History, published in the Camden Herald April 9, 2020.

Dyer also found time over the years to serve as a Camden selectman and on the Camden Budget Committee.

She has the distinction of having a little red tugboat named after her, “The Barbie D”.

Dyer understood the importance of remembering the history, of tracking the details and of honoring the memories of those who came before. She was beloved in the community. She will be badly missed and long remembered.

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