James Ferguson Millinger


TOPSHAM – James Ferguson Millinger was born in York on Feb. 5, 1935. He died in Topsham on May 5, 2023. Jim was the son of Mrs. and Rev. Walter H. Millinger, pastor of the First Parish Church in York from 1929 to 1952. When he was twelve, his mother bought a cottage on Chebeague Island where the family continued to summer. He graduated from York Junior High School and The Frederick Gunn School in Connecticut. He worked during his college summers as a Casco Bay Lines captain.

After graduating from Princeton University with Honors in History, Jim served in the Seventh Fleet in the USNR, being discharged as a Lieutenant. He attended graduate school at the Universities of California at Berkeley (M.A.) and Yale (Ph.D.) after which he taught Chinese History at three universities in New York City, Connecticut and California. In 1979 he was appointed Dean of the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, holding that position for seven years, then became a full-time teacher of Maritime History, Marine Policy, and Sea Literature. In his twenty years at S.E.A. he sailed as a mate and teacher of Nautical Science on S.E.A.’s two large oceanographic research sailing vessels on thirteen six-week research trips in the waters of the Northwest Atlantic from Venezuela to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Jim happily combined a life of teaching and seafaring.

Retiring from S.E.A. in 1999 he returned to Chebeague where, as a licensed Master Mariner, he was employed for five years as a part-time captain for the Chebeague Transportation Company. He also skippered power and sailing vessels elsewhere on the Maine coast, his largest command being the 151’ four-masted schooner Margaret Todd, sailing out of Bar Harbor. As an FAA commercially-rated pilot of single engine aircraft (land and sea) and gliders, he flew in the skies of California and New England, made one cross country delivery flight from Kansas to Connecticut, and soared in the skies of California and Arizona.

Jim was an active volunteer, serving in many capacities on the Board of the Chebeague Island Historical Society; as a docent at the Portland Harbor Museum and chair of its Exhibit Committee; leading discussions of sea literature for the Maine Humanities Council; serving on the Board and as Secretary of the Maine Historical Society; and lecturing on things maritime for the Road Scholar Program, the Smithsonian Institution, and at the Portland Harbor and Maine Maritime Museums.

In addition to scholarly review articles, he contributed entries on maritime subjects to The Encyclopedia of New England, Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea the Great Lakes, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History. In 1993 he published a little book about the vessels on which he worked in his youth on Casco Bay, The Nellie Gs of Casco Bay, and in 2007 he published another: Chebeague Island. Jim moved ashore to Topsham in 2009 where he continued to lecture and lead discussions, and became an active participant in contemporary Portland waterfront issues.

Jim leaves behind his companion of 40 years, Charlotte Pomeroy Hatfield (Pom), of Topsham, and her fine family; a daughter, Jenny Nadine Millinger, of Phoenix, Arizona; a sister, Susan Pingrey Millinger, of Shutesbury, Massachusetts; and five nieces.

He was predeceased by two sisters: Phyllis Whittier Millinger and Carolyn Godfrey Millinger Holland.

A gathering to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at the Highlands Retirement Community, 30 Governors Way, in Topsham on Sunday May 21 at 2 p.m. Another celebration is planned for early July on Chebeague.?

Contributions may be made in Jim’s memory to the Stephen L. Ross Scholarship Fund on Chebeague.
Sent to Maine Community Foundation; 245 Main St.; Ellsworth ME 04606; attn: Stephen L Ross Scholarship.


He lived his 88 years as a


Captain ~ Learner ~ Role model ~ Guide ~ Swimmer ~ Baritone ~ Father 

Poet ~ Host ~ Mensch ~ Scholar ~ Leader ~ Conversationalist ~ Baker Mate ~ Thespian ~ Advisor ~ Taoist ~ Dancer ~ Thinker ~ Aviator ~ Giver 

Mariner ~ Goofball ~ Scout ~ Enthusiast ~ Storyteller ~ Seeker ~ Uncle

Steward ~ Teacher ~ Listener ~ Equestrian ~ Son ~ Skier ~ Historian Musician ~ Savant ~ Volunteer ~ Chauffeur ~ Tightwad ~ Lover ~ Neighbor Observer ~ Planter ~ Putterer ~ Nurturer ~ Reader ~ Dishwasher 

Lecturer ~ Grandfather ~ Collaborator ~ Navigator ~ Mentor ~ Sharer  Moderator ~ Supporter ~ Brother ~ Researcher ~ Appreciator

Philosopher ~ Epicure ~ Writer ~ Naval officer ~ Man of his word


And a dear friend.