Atherton “Pete” Noyes III, of Damariscotta, passed away peacefully in his home on May 8. He was born in Winchester, Mass. on April 23, 1933 to Atherton and Barbara Noyes.
After growing up in New Jersey, he attended Middlebury College in Vermont. There he met, and subsequently married, Betsy Nutting, his wife of 61 years. Pete furthered his education with a master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University, along with further Russian language studies. Pete and Betsy began a career in the Navy with a tour at the Language School in Monterey, Cal. After six years serving in the U.S and Europe, Pete entered Foreign Service. Starting as a Secretary of Embassy, Pete and his family traveled to Vienna, Warsaw and Oslo with return trips to the D.C. area. He rose to the level of Senior Foreign Service, Level 2. An early retirement after seventeen years brought the family to Damariscotta in 1984.
His love of people and outdoor sports, facility with language and family connections in South Bristol, made Maine a natural fit. There, Pete found the real fulfillment of his life’s work. Soon after putting down roots, Pete devoted himself to volunteer work at the Damariscotta River Association and he remained deeply engaged in leadership of the organization for the next 32 years. He served as chair of the stewardship committee, member of the lands committee, president of the board of trustees, and as the organization’s first executive director. In these roles, he helped establish the DRA as one of the state’s leading land trusts, resulting in the conservation and stewardship of more than 100 properties across eight towns. Pete led the group’s support of the state’s purchase of 500 acres at Dodge Point, which was the first made by the Land for Maine’s Future Program, led the creation of the 115-acre Great Salt Bay Farm and Trail and coordinated the donation to the DRA of the 26-acre Stratton Island. Under Pete’s leadership, the DRA worked with other groups which restored the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder, protected the Whaleback Shell Midden and created the DRA Community Ice Rink at Round Top. Pete was such a valuable resource to the work that he loved that he was the natural author for a book of the DRA history that is in production. No job was too minor and Pete was mowing trails the day before he died. He is remembered as saying, “everything I did before in my life was just a prologue for this.” A recognizable constant around Damariscotta, Pete could be seen daily with his ever-present companion, Molly, the yellow Labrador.
Pete is survived by wife, Elizabeth; sons, David Atherton (Judy), Jonathan Kelvin (Terry), and Timothy Carmick; grandson, Daniel Atherton; brother and sisters, Robert Noyes (Harriet), Deborah Lewis (Phil) and Gretchen Hull (Jonathan); and nieces and nephews, Allison Buchanan, Rebecca Gorrel, Daniel Lewis, Nathan Lewis, Sarah Lewis, Peter Hull, Catherine Hull, and Margaret Hull.
Condolences, and messages for his family, may be expressed by visiting StrongHancock.com.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta.