On May 15th, 2017 with his family at his side Neil Rolde passed away in York, Maine. A memorial service for Rolde will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at the First Parish Church in York.
“With a deep heart, and tremendous love for a man who gave so much to others, we will miss Neil in the depths of our souls. He’ll live on forever in our hearts and with his books. Thank you Neil for blessing this Earth with your presence,” said Ramona du Houx, Neil’s publisher at Polar Bear & Co.
Neil Rolde was a Maine renowned historian, former politician and philanthropist.
As a youth he attended Phillips Academy in Andover where instructors encouraged his writing talents. He went on to Yale University and earned a Bachelor in Arts before attending Columbia University where he received a Masters in Journalism.
Rolde grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. He worked as a film writer before moving to Maine with his wife, Carlotta Florsheim, to raise their family. In York they brought up four wonderful children and enjoyed family visits with their eight grandchildren.
Mr. Rolde’s many years of public service include being an assistant to Governor Kenneth M. Curtis of Maine for six years and 16 years as an elected Representative in the Maine Legislature. He represented his district of York, Maine and became Majority Leader of the Maine House during the 107th legislature from 1975-77. He became the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1990 in an election bid against Bill Cohen.
Many of Mr. Rolde’s books involve the history of Maine and its people. The plight of Native Americans has been a reoccurring theme in Rolde’s life since his childhood and he helped Maine’s tribes while he worked in the Curtis administration. His experiences led his to write one of Maine’s definitive historic books: Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians.
More recently Neil focused on the plight of Jews during WWII and the Holocaust in a four-part series published by Polar Bear & Company: Breckinridge Long: American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man who Denied Visas to the Jews; Crimes of War; More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, Volume I: The Tempestuous History of the War Refuge Board and Volume II: More of The Tempestuous History of the War Refuge Board; his last book in this series, The Bricha, will be published posthumously.
He served as Chairman of the board of the Save our Shipyard nonprofit that successfully fought the potential cuts to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard proposed by the BRAC federal commission, twice.
“From his long service and leadership in the Legislature, to his generosity in the community, to successfully leading the charge to save Portsmouth Naval Shipyard -not once, but twice – he’s left and indelible mark on the state,” said U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree in a statement. “He was a true believer in the adage that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.“
“He was brilliant, witty and always a pleasure to spend time with. Like many others whose lives he touched, I learned so much from his stories and opinions. He will be missed,” said Pingree.
The author won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council. Neil was very involved in his York community and remained politically active until his death.
Mr. Rolde served on many State boards and commissions as well. A few are: the Maine Health Care Reform Commission, the Maine Historic Preservation, and the Maine Arts and Humanities Commission. His expertise led him to sit on many private non-profit boards as well, and he became Chairman, Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation, Vice-Chairman, University of New England Board of Trustees, Chairman, Board of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Chairman, Seacoast Shipyard Association Executive Board, Trustee, and the Maine Health Care Access Foundation.