Basil Stanley Heanssler

Deer Isle

Basil Stanley Heanssler fell asleep in Jesus at his home early Friday morning, the 28th of May, three weeks after his 97th birthday. He was born in Sunshine May 7, 1924, to Augustus Charles and Frances Lula (Taylor) Heanssler. He was educated locally, graduating from Deer Isle High School in June of 1941. Basil attended the Dexter School of Machining before joining the Coast Guard in 1942. In the Coast Guard, he went to navigation school in Boston. While stationed on Manhattan Beach, he developed rheumatic fever and later received a medical discharge, returning to Sunshine and his lifelong vocation of lobstering.

Basil took notice of a young lady named Harriet Barbour who worked as a nanny and assistant for Dr. Kopfmann and invited her on a double date and “smelting.” He later said she was a very good smelter. Basil and Harriet married Feb. 12, 1945. They had a new home built on East Side Road and in the winter of 1946 moved in with their new son, David. Kathy was born two years after that, and three years later came Nelson. Charles arrived 10 years later on the same birthday shared by Basil, Harriet and Harriet’s father.

Basil had many lobster boats built and was one of the first from the Island to lobster offshore in the winter. He also scalloped, dragged for flounder and even trawled for halibut. During the 1960s and 1970s, Basil purchased and sold numerous tracts of land in Downeast Maine and Nova Scotia. He and Harriet enjoyed the traveling and peoples of these regions. In 1972, Basil took over his father’s old lobster pound, which is still a part of the company. In 1977, due to back pain, he gave up lobstering and started construction of a new lobster venture with his family on Conary Cove in Sunshine, completing the wharf in 1978 and in 1981 the world’s largest square lobster pound. A few years later, Basil and his friend, fellow lobster pounder Herb Hodgkins, founded the Maine Lobster Pound Owners Association. Later, from that association and with Dr. Bob Bayer, he co-founded the University of Maine Lobster Institute, remaining active in these organizations until recent years.

Basil also served on the Deer Isle Planning Board for many years in the 1980s. Basil was a faithful, lifelong member of the Sunshine Advent Christian Church, serving on many boards and supporting ministries. He and Harriet also supported the work of other churches and ministries locally and globally.

Basil was predeceased by his parents, brothers, Byron, Frederick (Mildred), Curtis (Norma), and many good friends. He was also predeceased by his grandson, Jason, in 2007 and in 2015, his loving wife of 70 years, Harriet. He is survived by his children, David Basil Heanssler (Betty), Kathleen Heanssler, Nelson Stanley Heanssler (Valerie), Charles Heanssler (Trudy); grandchildren, Julie Soucy (Tim), Lisa Traylor (John), Nicole Heath, Thomas Haynes (Mailen), Ann-Marie Young (David), Benjamin Heanssler (Sarah), Micah Heanssler (Amanda), Joshua Heanssler (fiancée, Rebecca); 15 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A service remembering his life will be held 1 p.m. Monday, June 7, at the Sunshine Advent Christian Church with private family committal at Evergreen Cemetery on Sunshine. A time of remembrance will follow the funeral service at the Advent Christian Fellowship Center.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Memorial Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 387, Deer Isle, ME 04627-0387.

The family would like to thank Dr. Charles Zelnick and all of Basil’s caregivers for their devoted care these past years.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Bragdon-Kelley Funeral Home, Ellsworth, where online condolences may be shared:

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