ELLSWORTH — Darlene Springer, 64, the city’s go-to local historian, died Monday at home.
Springer was known for her encyclopedic knowledge of the individuals, businesses and buildings that underlay the story of Ellsworth.
“We’ve lost a ton of knowledge of Ellsworth,” City Council Chairman Marc Blanchette lamented. “Her grasp of Ellsworth history was legendary.”
Councilor Gary Fortier agreed: “I don’t know who the go-to person for local history is going to be.”
“It’s a tragic loss to the history of Ellsworth,” said Charlene Clemons, special collections curator at the Ellsworth Public Library. “She had wonderful collections.”
In particular, Springer maintained a collection of old photos that routinely appear in The American’s “Looking Back” weekly feature. Speaking of the relationship between Springer and the newspaper, her history of the Great Fire of 1933 was the lead story on the paper’s front page earlier this month. The occasion was the 85th anniversary of the catastrophe.
In 2013, Springer collaborated with The American on a history of the city to mark Ellsworth’s 250th birthday. Offered compensation for her hours of work, she asked that the check go the Ellsworth Historical Society.
Springer loved Ford trucks, Dots candy and brunches at the Bar Harbor Inn, said friend Tim Torrey, owner of the Old Creamery Antique Mall on Hancock Street.
The pair met years ago when Torrey opened the shop. They were discussing a shared love of local history when Springer mentioned an interest in antique glass. Torrey suggested she open a booth.
“Next thing I knew, she had two,” Torrey said.
In addition to her glass collection, Springer amassed a large trove of old Ellsworth postcards, maps and photographs. She was happy to share — just not the originals; those she intended to go to the Ellsworth Historical Society. She’d make copies for anyone who asked. Images from her collection are displayed at Pat’s Pizza and the Downeast Scenic Railroad.
Springer was genuine, generous and hard-working, according to Torrey. A “true historian,” she followed in the footsteps of her mother, Reta Dunn, who died in 2015.
“If Darlene didn’t know it, her mom did,” Torrey said.
Springer was also artistic. The fifth generation in the monument business, her artwork appears on many Dunn Monument stones. She also liked to draw and paint.
Springer also was an ordained American Baptist minister. She was a supply preacher at area churches, including the Lamoine Baptist Church, and participated as a preacher at recent Lenten services.
New Media Editor Cyndi Wood contributed to this report