Buxton’s Libby remembered as civic-minded man of integrity

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Longtime Buxton political figure and World War II veteran Bob Libby died at age 92.

Longtime Buxton political figure and World War II veteran Bob Libby died at age 92.

BUXTON — A longtime, local political figure and World War II veteran remembered as a gentleman was buried in Groveville Sunday with Coast Guard honors.

Born in Buxton on the Fourth of July in 1925, Robert Libby died at age 92 on Oct. 17. As a selectman and assessor, Libby was widely known in his hometown, in Gorham, Westbrook and statewide.

“Bob Libby was a tough man, yet fair and generous,” Buxton Town Clerk John Myers said this week. “He helped so many in our community. Bob is already missed by so many.”

Libby served as selectman, assessor and overseer of the poor for  29 years,  1968-83 and 2000-14. He was instrumental in having a memorial installed in Groveville honoring U.S. veterans of the Korean War.

He did not seek reelection in 2014, retiring from public service at age 89.

Dennis Santolucito, chairman of the Board of Selectman, had worked with Libby on the town’s Budget Committee. He remembers Libby’s integrity, professionalism and focus on serving the town.

“He was a great guy to be around,” Santolucito said this week.

Libby also had been a tax assessor in Gorham, where he was twice appointed as an interim town manager, and in Westbrook

He was appointed to the State Board of Assessment Review by three Maine governors – James Longley, John McKernan and Angus King. Libby taught tax courses at Bowdoin College and the University of Maine.

Serving at sea in World War II, Libby had at 18 enlisted with the U.S. Coast Guard and was on duty 1942-1946. He was a crewmember aboard the USS Joseph T. Dickman, a Navy attack troop ship.

Libby participated in the invasion of Normandy. “His job was to keep a landing craft barge running as they continuously ferried troops from the ship to the beaches,” his obituary said.

A radioman, he was honorably discharged as a Third Class Petty Officer. “He never really talked about Normandy,” Santolucito said.

An auto racing enthusiast and former race driver, Libby was a member of Maine and New England halls of fame. He drove at Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough among several Maine tracks and others in New Hampshire and New Brunswick, Canada.

He won the New England Dirt Track Championship in 1966.

Richard “Sandy” Atkinson of Buxton said he competed against Libby and they often reminisced in later years. “I’ve known him forever,” Atkinson said. “I raced with him 10 years.”

Atkinson said Libby helped a lot of people and no one had anything bad to say about Libby. “He was a gentleman and had an outgoing personality,” Atkinson recalled.

In both lengthy private and public careers, Libby was multi-talented. At various times he was a real estate agent, industrial engineer and entrepreneur with a firm he founded with a family member.

“He was very thorough,” Atkinson said.

A funeral service was held where he had devoted much of life. “Having his funeral at the Buxton Town Hall was the perfect tribute to him and his life’s work,” Myers said.

A Coast Guard honor guard buried Libby at Highland Cemetery in Groveville.

Libby is survived by his wife, Nancy (Stilphen) Libby, children Diana Steelman, James Libby and John Libby and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Chad Poitras, selectman and funeral director, Monday described Libby as a good man. “Bob was such a community asset,” Poitras said.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or rlowell@keepmnecurrent.com.