SOUTH GOULDSBORO — Jeremy M. Strater lived a full life. He died Monday night, Feb. 2, 2015, at the age of 70, in his childhood home on Taft Point in South Gouldsboro, after a year-and-a-half-long struggle with metastasized stage IV lung cancer. He was surrounded by love and at peace, in the midst of a raging snowstorm.
Jeremy was born March 22, 1944, in New York City, to Janet Strater, a graceful model and bon vivant, and Henry “Mike” Strater, a Lost Generation painter. Jeremy attended the one-room Morton E. Bunker Elementary School in Gouldsboro, was groomed for the Ivy League at Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey, but instead received a degree in literature from the progressive, experimental Goddard College in Vermont. He embraced the spirit of the ’60s and its counterculture; in lieu of military service during the Vietnam War, Jeremy, a proud conscientious objector, worked as a pulmonary function technician in a hospital in Massachusetts.
After a short stint as a wild man, Jeremy found his sobriety, and became an influential sponsor within the AA program. He moved to Philadelphia, where he led a crew as a ship breaker, melting iron with torches. He later worked as a carpenter, deepening his love for tools and working with his hands. He labored on old row homes, like his own in Bella Vista, where he proudly used his great strength and size to chip out the old basement with a rotary hammer drill. There, Jeremy further developed his passion of folk music, bluegrass and blues, and participated in the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
He returned to Maine full time in the early ’90s, to work the land, chop wood, play music and nurture the community with his gregarious spirit, drawn by the, “kindness, civility and integrity of the people,” as he once said. His driving spirit was his bordering on obsessive passion for the organization and maintenance of his home and land.
Jeremy managed his land as a sustainable woodlot, and had a deep and profound connection to nature. He loved to bird watch from his kitchen window and complain about the squirrels at the feeder. Upon his diagnosis, he donated 65 acres of his property to Frenchman Bay Conservancy so that the land will always be wild and free from development.
Jeremy founded the Schoodic Arts “Last Friday Coffee House” concert series. He tirelessly booked, housed and fed musicians, made contacts and promoted the shows for 15 years. Jeremy provided a venue and encouragement for musicians. He would often sing along in his distinctive, rich baritone voice and shout out “yeah!” when he recognized a familiar tune. He also had a dedication in the practical matters of his hometown, and served on the Gouldsboro Planning Board for 11 years. Wherever he went, he talked our ears off, but he charmed us with his wit and kindness.
Jeremy was a well-loved man, with a bursting rolodex of friends and neighbors. He is survived by his vibrant, beloved daughter, Lily I. Strater; his best friend and loyal soul mate, Terri Armstrong; her adoring daughter, Renee Garland; and his half-siblings, Pompe, Bill and Matthew. His many friends and caregivers were not limited to Eric Horschak, Terry Noyes, Cynthia Thayer, Kerry Crowley, Wendy Gignoux, and Jimmi Van Kuren.
A celebration memorial of Jeremy’s life will be held at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor on St. Valentine’s Day, Saturday, Feb. 14, at 1 p.m. Please bring a dessert or dish, and memories to share. To reach out or share a story about Jeremy, please contact his daughter Lily at [email protected]