Henry Hubbell

May 25, 1917 – March 5, 2010


HenryBRUNSWICK, ME – Henry Hubbell, 92, passed away peacefully on March 5, 2010 at Mid Coast Hospital.  He was born in New Haven, CT on May 25, 1917, the son of Harry M. Hubbell and Alice Clark Hubbell.  He attended the Hopkins Grammar School and graduated from Yale University in 1940 with a B.S. in Metallurgy.  After college he went to work for the Fafnir Bearing Company of New Britain, CT, where he worked until retiring in 1982.  Because of his valuable skills in metallurgy and Fafnir’s work supporting the World War II effort, the military refused to enlist Henry, so he had to be satisfied with supporting his country’s efforts from the home front.  For most of his career he was Fafnir’s Director of Technical Development, leading new product development and manufacturing process improvements.  He received several patents for product and process design.

Near the end of the war he met Nancy Hatch of New Britain and they were married on September 29, 1945.  They raised their family in New Britain and later in nearby Southington, CT, where they lived until they moved to Yarmouth, ME in 1999, to be closer to their beloved summer residence on Chebeague Island.  Henry was predeceased by Nancy in 2001 and then moved to Thornton Oaks in Brunswick in 2002.

Henry is survived by his son, Richard and wife Jennifer of Yarmouth and Elizabeth Riggs and husband Geoffrey of New York City.  He is also survived by two grandchildren, Nathaniel Hubbell of Somerville, MA and Laura Hubbell of Portland, ME.

Henry was an avid chef, gardener, skier and “explorer”, frequently organizing for his family and friends “expotitions” (as they were called in Winnie the Pooh, one of the favorite books he read to his family). His greatest loves though were Chebeague Island and sailing.

In 1921 Henry’s father, Professor Harry Hubbell brought Henry and his mother to Chebeague upon the recommendation of Professor Harmon.  Henry suffered from hay fever and Mrs. Harmon told the Hubbell’s that Chebeague had no hay fever.  When the Hubbell’s disembarked from the steamer at Central Landing they were greeted by a field of ragweed and goldenrod.  Despite these pesky allergens, the Hubbell’s fell in love with Chebeague. Two years later they bought the cottage at 13 Ben Webber Rd., where Henry continued to come every summer through 2009.  The family soon took to the water, first in the power boat Snark.  After a few years of building and sailing ever larger model sailboats, Henry and his father designed an 18’ Hampton style sloop.  Henry named the boat Windward and had her built in 1934 on Cliff Island by Ward Bickford.  He sailed and raced Windward for many years, but then, in 1954 she was wrecked in Hurricane Carol.  As an example of Henry’s desire and ability to tackle interesting projects, rather than scrap Windward, he rebuilt her and converted her from a gaff rigged centerboard sloop to a keel boat with a modern Marconi rig.  After 10 more years of plying Casco Bay, the demands of racing in the newly formed Chebeague Island Yacht Club led Henry to buy the 22’ Ensign he named Windsong.  He continued to sail her with his family and friends until his last sail in September 2009. 

For many years Henry took Nancy out several times a week for a lunch sail in which he served his famous seven (small) course lunch.  Between sailing picnics he was an avid racer in the CIYC, went on occasional overnight cruises and entertained family and friends at boundless island picnics in Casco Bay.  It was this love of sailing and picnics that prompted him to help establish the Chebeague Island Yacht Club Picnic race with its Le Mans start and to provide pewter Hubbell Mugs as trophies for the winners.

Besides serving as CIYC Commodore and several other officers in the club, Henry served on Chebeague as Treasurer of the Tennis Club and the Crestwell water company.  Off of Chebeague his volunteer activities included singing in the choir of the South Congegational – First Baptist Church, lighting design and set construction at the New Britain Repertory Theater, teaching English (ESL) to immigrants and volunteering as a motorman for the Warehouse Point Electric Railway Museum in Connecticut.

In his final years living at Thornton Oaks, Henry was assisted greatly by numerous helpers from Neighbors, Inc.  Several of these people became good friends over the many lunches he enjoyed over the years in the Brunswick area.  The family extends its deepest appreciation and thanks to these friends as well as to the many friends on Chebeague, all of whom permitted Henry to enjoy Chebeague and a great deal of independence in the final years of his life.

Above all, Henry’s family, friends and community members will remember his zest for life, great, if somewhat corny, sense of humor and boundless energy.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Chebeague Island Community Sailing School, c/o Robert Halpin, 943 Lowell Rd., Concord MA 01742.  A private family service will be followed by a celebration of Henry’s life on Chebeague in the summer of 2010.