Generally speaking we don't like to give away the stories in forthcoming issues of Down East magazine, but the news of Harold Alfond's death, at age ninety-three, is a special circumstance. Alfond, for those who don't know, was the retired head of Dexter Shoe, a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox, and one of Maine's premiere philanthropists. The Associated Press lists some of his major gifts as $1.7 million for a new gym and recreation center at St. Joseph's College in Standish; $3 million for the Harold Alfond Athletic Center at Colby College in Waterville; and $5 million for the Goodwill-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls.
The January issue of Down East, which is being printed even as I type, is devoted to the "Best of Maine." I think it's only fitting on the day of Harold Alfond's death to let the cat out of the bag. Under "Best School Spirit" we're honoring Alfond this way:
"Many young people never want to step foot in a school again after receiving their diploma, but not so for Harold Alfond. While his own education stopped at high school, the founder of Dexter Shoe Company and inventor of the outlet store phenomenon has given tens of millions of dollars to academic institutions across Maine. Whether you're enjoying a Black Bears hockey game at the Alfond Arena in Orono or swimming at his eponymous pool at St. Joe's, you're never too far away from feeling the generosity of this Massachusetts-born philanthropist. 'For more than thirty years, Harold Alfond has had a tremendous and positive influence on the University of Maine,' says Robert Kennedy, president of UMO. 'His generosity has benefited a great many students, it has strengthened our university, and it has enabled UMaine to forge stronger ties with the statewide community. In addition to his enormous generosity, Harold was among the first - if not the first - to model a philanthropic spirit in the state. His impact on Maine will be felt for generations to come.'"
May he rest in peace.
Ed in Chief