Local Democratic Party Fixture Tom Schroth Dies at 88

SEDGWICK — An accomplished newspaperman and town official and a driving force in shaping the Democratic Party locally and statewide, Tom Schroth died peacefully July 23 at his home in Sedgwick. He was 88.

“I can’t think of anyone currently holding office that Tom didn’t help,” Heather Martin-Zboray, coordinator of the Hancock County Democratic Committee, said of local Democrats serving in the state Legislature. “For me personally, elections and campaigns can get frenetic. Tom was one of those rare people who could take a breath in the middle of it all and sit back and think about it with a little more precision.

“Tom was a member of our executive committee. He had been to the state convention many times. He was instrumental in the running and in the thinking of the organization. He had a way of approaching a problem that was thoughtful and deliberative with an underlying fundamental sense of humor. I never saw Tom lose his temper. He was cheerful and a real pleasure to be around.”

State Rep. Jim Schatz (D-Blue Hill) said Schroth played a major role in encouraging him to enter politics at the state level. The fellow Democrats shared political ideology, but it was Schroth’s demeanor that Schatz and others found so endearing.

“He was always active in Sedgwick,” Schatz said. “He wasn’t a person to hang out on the sidelines. But it was his temperament and his humanity that attracted me most.”

Schroth served as co-chairman of the Hancock County Democrats, was a member of the Maine State Democratic Committee and attended six national Democratic Conventions.

His distinguished career in journalism began after World War II when he started reporting for Time magazine and United Press International. He next went to work at the Brooklyn Eagle in Brooklyn, N.Y., first as a reporter and eventually as an editor. When that newspaper folded, he became executive editor at Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C.

He left that publication in 1968 to become a founding editor of the National Journal in Washington. He came to Sedgwick in 1972 and became executive editor of The Ellsworth American, which was published by his father-in-law, James Russell Wiggins. He left the American in 1977 and, with his wife, Patricia, published Maine Life Magazine for the next six years. Later, the Schroths and their friend, Elsie Fanning, formed New Leaf Publishers.

Schroth was first elected selectman in Sedgwick in 1989 and served in that role until 1994. He was known throughout town as a frequent Town Meeting moderator and for his work on the Board of Appeals, as well as serving on the directing boards of several area organizations, including Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Blue Hill Concert Association, Downeast Transportation and the Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle.

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