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Farewell Neighbor

Hamlins honor sister, aunt, community servant

By Beth A. Birmingham | Aug 06, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Cindi, Taylor and David Hamlin volunteer Aug. 2 in the food tent in honor of longtime organizer Julie Raye, who passed away July 19.

Rockland — The spirit of longtime Maine Lobster Festival volunteer coordinator Julie Raye lived on at this year's festivities, as the Hamlin family of South Thomaston volunteered in her memory.

Raye, the sister of Cindi Hamlin and aunt of Taylor Hamlin, passed away July 19 after a period of declining health. "Julie was so proud of Taylor when she was crowned the Sea Goddess in 2018," Cindi said.

Despite the upheaval that went along with last year's Maine Lobster Festival coronation, Cindi and husband David Hamlin said they just want to move past last year's mess.

"Now that Julie has passed, we want to honor her commitment that she spent so much time down there," Cindi said, adding that they really had no expectations about being there. They were just hoping to have fun and "move past the elephant in the room."

Sisters Jan Staples, Gail Robishaw and Hamlin began volunteering in 1989, when Raye first started.

"I just remember while Julie and Paulette [Sylvester] coordinated the volunteers it was fun," Cindi said. "They really put their hearts into it, and it showed!"

Raye participated in and led many community events. Her involvement with the Lobster Festival was one of her passions. She began volunteering in the food tent for a four-hour shift, and it developed into a five-day marathon for 20-plus years.

Raye was named an honorable member of the Maine Lobster Festival for her years of service in 2007.

During these years she was a member of the festival's Board of Directors and became volunteer co-coordinator with Sylvester, and in 2010, the pair were co-grand marshals in the Big Parade.

Raye was recognized for her community service when she was named the 2001 Chamber Person of the Year by the Rockland-Thomaston Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition, she was recognized by Maine's representatives in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for her involvement in local politics and civic activities. She also received a Rockland City Council commendation in 1995 for her never-ending volunteer efforts.

Her love of children led her to run for the Maine School Administrative District 5 School Board in 1993, where she served until 2002, with three years as chair. During her time on the board, she was a strong advocate for children, staff, athletics and taxpayers. In 1996, she and husband Jimmy helped raise $100,000 to pay for the high school football program and restart the pee wee program through middle school as part of The Booster Club and Tiger Football.

Raye worked in real estate at Jaret & Cohn and ERA for a few years, and in 1996, became the owner and operator of The House of Cards. During this time, she was actively involved with the downtown revitalization efforts that included the creation of the Festival of Lights. After dissolving the House of Cards in 2009, she became part of the Raye Insurance family business.

On the day Raye passed away, three groundhogs visited near her room at Sussman House. Hamlin's spiritual beliefs say groundhogs stand for family, community, loyalty and generosity.

"Julie fit those things," she said.

Knowing Raye's great love for golf, Hamlin said the family thought the groundhogs represented three of her golfing friends who have also passed -- Linwood Campbell, Frank Mace and Alan Baudanza.

"She was a kind, passionate community service-oriented individual, and I will always remember her energy and passion and belief in the downtown association and making a difference in this wonderful community," Shari Closter recalled of Raye.

"She had a gift of being able to bring people and businesses together. ... She was a treasured asset to this community," she said.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

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Comments (1)
Posted by: SYD LEACH | Aug 06, 2019 20:36

sorry to hear of her passing..But so grateful to overcome thank you Hamlin family and beyond..we need more people like your...thanks


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