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Midcoast reporter Emmet Meara passes at 79

By Stephen Betts | Feb 08, 2020
Emmet Meara

Camden — Emmet Meara -- who worked for the Bangor Daily News for 30 years out of its downtown Rockland office and later wrote columns from Cobb Manor that regaled readers with his recollections and antics -- died Saturday, Feb. 8, at the age of 79.

Emmet is the last of the old time reporters who served the Midcoast, covering the city council, school board and even the occasional zoning board meetings.

He did not just write news articles, he used his skilled, colorful writing ability to weave stories about the people and places around the Midcoast.

In 2015, he humorously wrote his own obituary. Some of that information is used for this reflection on the life of the man who was born Irish and never let anyone forget that.

He was born Dec. 22, 1940, pointing out that this was before Pearl Harbor. He grew up in the "Huck Finn" neighborhood of West Roxbury, Mass.

A young Emmet attended Roslindale High School, although he said he spent most high school days playing pinball at the Mardi Gras Arcade with sailors and hookers.

He spent five years at Northeastern University but "managed to avoid graduation by changing majors at will." He applied to Boston College in 1958 and "was still waiting for that admissions letter when he died."

Emmet started a career in Boston’s insurance trade at the brand new Prudential Center.

"Although he lived a single block away on Fairfield Street, Meara was routinely the last person at his desk. He was always the fastest health insurance underwriter on the floor because he rarely read the required medical reports."

He would later be a ski bum at Mount Snow in Vermont, went to Miami and worked aboard the Patria, a large private sailing vessel.

Emmet said he ignored an offer to try out for a photography job on some new magazine — Rolling Stone -- but labored mightily for Mad Dog Trucking.

He wrote for the Attleboro Sun in Massachusetts, then the Gloucester Times.

"Meara would have stayed at Cape Ann forever but a co-worker offered to fund a photo studio on Newbury Street to keep the co-worker’s new wife happy and busy. That was great fun while it lasted but generated little money for luxuries like food and heating oil," Emmet wrote.

He came to Maine in 1971 and was hired by Bangor Daily News then bureau chief Ted Sylvester to do some photography. He earned $3 a photo plus mileage. He would soon work a full-time reporting job and worked out of the Bangor news office at 419 Main St., adjacent to WRKD radio station.

He skewered the powerful. One time, when the daughter of presidential candidate and former astronaut John Glenn came to Rockland to campaign for her father in 1983, she made the mistake of saying how she loved being in Maine with the wonderful salt air smell. Glenn's daughter was speaking from the rear deck of the Thorndike and Emmet immediately informed her that the smells were a combination of the sewage treatment plant and a nearby fish meal plant named Seapro.

He worked for the Bangor Daily for three decades before being “downsized” in 2001. He would continue to write columns for the newspaper until the past few years.

At Knox County Superior Court, he recalls meeting the fabulous Blue Eyes, the fashionable court clerk who put up with him for 37 years, much to the amazement of his jealous friends. She was the love of his life.

His home on Cobb Road was named Cobb Manor. Cobb Manor became a party house for friends and often times friends would stay there for indeterminate stretches of their lives.

"His three bedroom mansion, Cobb Manor, housed a delightful parade of ne’er do wells, poets, misfits and newly divorced parties of both sexes," Emmet recalled.

In the columns he wrote over the years, he talked about his love of the New York Times crossword puzzles, strawberry pie from Helen's Restaurant in Machias, and a Reuben sandwich from Morse's Sauerkraut in Waldoboro.

He was a Red Sox fan who traveled to Fort Myers, Florida, for a few weeks each winter for about two decades to get away from the Maine winter and also to see his Red Sox.

Emmet also recalled fondly his trips to the Allagash in northern Maine with friends including another fellow Bangor Daily colleague Walter Griffin. Walter passed away in 2014 at the age of 68 but Emmet would often make references to his dear friend in columns and on social media posts.

Emmet leaves behind Blue Eyes; his three children Griffin, Aran and Bridget; two grandchildren Matthew and Meara; too many friends to name; and countless readers whom he informed and entertained.

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Comments (8)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Feb 09, 2020 06:58

I first met Emmett while working at WRKD   I immediately was drawn to his off beat sense of humor and clever witt. And the stories what a great story writer. Ray gross former editor of the courier coined a phrase while referring to Emmett I still often use today "never let facts interfere with a good story"  farewell friend and may the road always rise to meet you

Posted by: Martha Johnston-Nash | Feb 08, 2020 17:45

He certainly was one of a kind. His sense of humor opened a lot of doors for him. RIP Emmet.

Posted by: Kay Cochran | Feb 08, 2020 16:17

Good writing, makes you wish you knew him too, thanks

Posted by: Daniel Purdy | Feb 08, 2020 14:22

A good story about your long time good friend.

Posted by: Jeanne Hollingsworth | Feb 08, 2020 12:34

I agree - nice tribute. Sad day.


Posted by: RSU #13 CENTRAL OFFICE | Feb 08, 2020 12:22

Wonderful piece of writing Steve. Thank you.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 08, 2020 11:59

A remarkable man!

Posted by: Stephen Z Heddericg | Feb 08, 2020 11:16

Thanks, Steve.


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