Ross Alexander Hugo-Vidal

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Service Information
St Luke's Cathedral
143 State St
Portland, ME 04101

Ross Alexander Hugo-Vidal, 59
BUXTON - Ross Alexander Hugo-Vidal, a lawyer turned special education teacher, died peacefully at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House on Sept. 12, 2017, at the age of 59, from metastatic melanoma.
Mr. Hugo-Vidal was a graduate of Georgetown University and the George Washington University National Law Center. He practiced as a trial attorney at Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson; then as litigation manager for People's Heritage Bank, now TD Bank.
After 14 years in the law, he became a special education ed tech in the Gorham school system, a move he described as "the best decision of my life, after marrying Julia." He pursued this passion for 16 years, stopping only when sickness made it impossible for him to work.
A member of a family which included one of the last Spanish governors in the Philippines, a Broadway actress, a New England debutante, and a broadcaster for the World War II Latin American Voice of America, Ross Hugo-Vidal was born Oct. 16, 1957, in White Plains, N.Y., to Victor B. Hugo-Vidal and Elaine Shirley Watt. His parents, celebrated equestrians, gave him a childhood filled with books, animals and long summers in Deer Isle. Upon divorcing, Ms. Watt moved permanently to the family's summer home, Birch Bend, with her partner, Joanie Gibson, and her sons.
Mr. Hugo-Vidal graduated from Stonington High School in 1975 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the tender age of 17. The military took him from Texas to California to Washington, D.C., and left him with a deep love of travel. He went on to visit Africa, Europe, Central America and much of North America, often in the company of his family.
He continued his service in the Maryland Air National Guard while earning his B.A. from Georgetown. He finished his degree in 1982, the same year he was named Maryland ANG Airman of the Year.
Washington, D.C., where he met and courted his wife, was Mr. Hugo-Vidal's favorite city, but the Pine Tree State was his home, and after graduating from GWU's National Law Center in 1986, he accepted a position at Bernstein Shur, Maine's largest law firm.
Those who knew Mr. Hugo-Vidal as a teacher might be surprised to learn he was an aggressive litigator. "He'll rip your opponent's eyelids off," partner William W. Willard once said of him. He was notorious for long work hours, and his wife became resigned to his large legal brief case coming along on their skiing trips and Mexican getaways.
The birth of their first child inspired him to switch to a less all-absorbing position: he joined what was then People's Heritage Bank as litigation manager in 1992.
He enjoyed both the challenges of banking during the go-go era of mergers and acquisitions in the '90s, and the company of his co-workers, several of whom became lifelong friends. The early signs of his passion for education first appeared at the bank; he organized a volunteer partnership with Reiche Elementary School and mentored several paralegals who went on law school.
When the Banknorth-TD Bank merger left him jobless in 2000, Mr. Hugo-Vidal followed his heart by entering USM's Extended Teacher Education Program, an intensive one-year teaching certification course. Originally aiming for middle school, Mr. Hugo-Vidal fell in love with the early grades at Narragansett Elementary, where he did his student teaching. Not having a classroom opening, the school offered him a job as a special ed education technician, a position he found so fulfilling he never reapplied to head up his own class.
Instead, he poured the energy he once used to benefit corporations into working one-on-one with elementary students. "I make more of a difference in this world helping one of my kiddos than I ever did moving money from one pocket to another as an attorney," Mr. Hugo-Vidal said. Many of his peers commented on the lasting mark he left on students and teachers with his chess clubs, deep baritone voice, NTSB-level traffic control skills and unabashed love of cheesy aphorisms.
"My dad had a motto for every situation," his oldest daughter, Victoria Hugo-Vidal, said. "
'The greatest room in the world is room for improvement.'

'Aim high, work hard, and never give up.'
And his personal favorite,
'It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.'
Mr. Hugo-Vidal gave himself a second full-time job when his wife began publishing novels as Julia Spencer-Fleming. He managed her social media, marketing and publicity, and became a welcome face at writers' conferences and book conventions. Few who met him could escape hearing about "the lovely and talented Mrs. H-V" and having a book pressed into their hands.
In addition to his wife Julia and daughter Victoria, Mr. Hugo-Vidal is survived by his son, Spencer Hugo-Vidal, Petty Officer 3rd Class, USN; his daughter, Virginia Hugo-Vidal; and brother, Christopher Hugo-Vidal.
The funeral service will be held at X p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral, 143 State St., in Portland.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to
Narragansett Elementary School
c/o Gorham School Department
75 South Street
Gorham, ME 04038

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Sept. 15, 2017
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