James S. Erwin

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James S. Erwin, 84

YORK HARBOR - James Shrewsbury Erwin, 84, of York Harbor, died July 14, 2005 at York Hospital after a short illness.

Mr. Erwin was born in New York City Nov. 27, 1920, the son of James R. Erwin and the former Elizabeth Davidson. He grew up in Englewood, N.J., and spent his childhood summers on his mother's family farm in South Berwick, today the site of Berwick Academy.

Mr. Erwin graduated from Dartmouth College in 1942, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served during World War II with the 6th Port Headquarters Company of the Artillery and Transportation Corps supporting the Allies' invasion of North Africa, Italy and France. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1944 before being honorably discharged in 1946.

Mr. Erwin married the former Charlotte Anne Ruprecht, also of Englewood, in 1947.

Following his graduation from Columbia University Law School in 1949, the Erwins moved to York, where he practiced law for most of the next 55 years, most recently with Erwin, Ott, Clark, Orso & Campbell, to which he became of counsel in 2003. He served as president of the Maine State Bar Association in 1967-68, as a member of the Committee on Judicial Disability and Responsibility of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and as a member of numerous other law-related organizations.

Mr. Erwin soon entered politics, serving terms in both the Maine House of Representatives and Senate. He was elected as Maine's Attorney General for three terms, serving from 1967 through 1972, during which time he established both criminal and environmental divisions and oversaw the development of statewide prosecutorial expertise in both areas. He served as chairman of the Maine delegation to the Republican National Convention in 1968. He was the Republican nominee for Governor in 1970 and 1974.

Among his many interests, two ranked especially high. One was the Maine woods. In the 1960s he and his wife owned and commercially operated Chairback Mountain Camps, a hunting and fishing camp on the Appalachian Trail near Monson. As Attorney General he chaired the Baxter State Park Authority, cherishing the opportunity to protect Governor Baxter's great gift to the people of Maine. In later years he enjoyed fishing trips with family members and his best childhood friend to Pierce Pond.

His other special interest was York Hospital, which was originally located in his grandmother's former home in York. He served on the Board of Trustees from 1952 to 1966 and from 1975 to 1990. As board president in the 1980s, Mr. Erwin led the hospital's community-driven, grass roots effort to survive by establishing, against strong regulatory resistance, critical services such as cardiac catheterization that are central to York Hospital's success today as a community hospital. He was the chief architect and first chairman the York Health Foundation, which was founded in 1984.

Mr. Erwin served many civic, charitable and professional organizations, including as Trustee of the York School District, Chairman of the York County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Director of the Pine Tree Council, Boy Scouts of America, Director of the Portsmouth Trust Company, Trustee of Berwick Academy, Director of Ocean National Bank, one of the original trustees of the Hartley Mason Reservation, and a member of the Maine, York and Kennebec County Bar Associations, the American Legion and VFW, York Harbor Reading Room, York Fish & Game Association, and the Volunteer Veteran Firemen's Association of York Harbor, known as the Red Shirts. He was an active member of the Masons, belonging to Maine Council No. 7, R.S. & M. (Saco), St. Amand Commandery No. 20 Knights Templar, St. Aspinquid Lodge, A.F. & A.M. No. 198 York, York County Shrine Club, Maine Royal Arch Chapter 73 Kittery, and Kora Temple AAONMS. He was a member of the First Parish Church for over 50 years.

In 1970 Columbia University Law School awarded him its first “Progress with Promise” award. In 1991 the York Bar Association awarded him its first Law Day award.

Mr. Erwin is survived by his wife of 58 years, Anne, of York Harbor; four children, Shelley Erwin Simms and her husband Bryan Simms of Glendale, Calif., Sally Erwin Bodnar and her husband Dr. Paul Bodnar of Baltimore, Md., James R. Erwin and his wife Eileen Erwin of Yarmouth, and Jane Erwin Hammett and her husband Robert Dorsett of Alameda, Calif.; seven grandchildren, Anne Simms of San Francisco, Martha Simms of Glendale, Beth Bodnar of Baltimore, Benjamin Bodnar of New York City, and Jessie, Sarah and James S. Erwin, III of Yarmouth; and a sister, Elizabeth Johnson of Ponte Vedra, Fla.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, July 20 at 2 p.m. at the First Parish Church, York Street, York. Visiting hours are on Tuesday, July 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Lucas & Eaton Funeral Home, Long Sands Road, York.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made in Mr. Erwin's memory to:

York Hospital

15 Hospital Dr.

York, Maine 03909

James S. Erwin

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on July 15, 2005
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