Whether Gary Stone is on his daily run along the roads of Newcastle and Damariscotta, at a community fundraiser or event, or walking into downtown Damariscotta on his lunch break, he’s a man about town who is all about community.
Stone, vice president, portfolio manager, and senior business development officer at First National Bank in Damariscotta, has been involved in the Twin Villages since his arrival in the early 2000s from New York City with his wife, Bonnie, and their children, Sam and Benjamin.
“It’s important to support the community in every way you can,” Stone said.
Stone said he’s often recognized around town from his appearances with the Rotary Club of Damariscotta-Newcastle, of which he was the president of in 2004-2005, and for his other civic engagements, but it was his presence on the side of the road that may have really cemented his place as a face in local commerce.
“People would come up to me and ask if I was ‘the runner’ they were seeing,” Stone said, laughing.
For Stone, the benefit of running locally wasn’t accruing minor celebrity, but something he’s always enjoyed about the activity:the clarity and mindfulness.
“Running is one of the few experiences I have on a daily basis that’s meditative,” Stone said. “It was always more of a holistic experience for me, instead of competitive.”
Born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., the youngest of five siblings, Stone has always been involved in sports. He prioritized his academics, enjoying competitive tennis at the high school level and writing essays. When it came time to attend a university, he was influenced by older siblings, two of whom attended Bates in Lewiston, to apply to school in Maine.
Stone attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he earned a bachelor’s in English in 1983 after abandoning a pre-med track.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” Stone said. “I don’t write as often as I should, but I try to seize the opportunities to put my thoughts on paper still.”
After graduating, Stone moved to California, where he was convinced by a dear, but wild, friend of his to go on a biking trip across Europe and then Africa. After a little thought, convincing, and maybe a few drinks, he agreed.
“I wasn’t even a cyclist, I was a runner,” Stone said. “But he converted me.”
The circuitous journey spanned six months, between 1984-1985, and 6,000 miles. While they didn’t end up reaching Kenya due to some health issues, Stone and his friend did make it to Niger, starting from London.
“It wasn’t a time trial, it was a cultural experience,” Stone said. “It was a seminal event in my life where I found more confidence and changed my perspective on what I could accomplish.”
Returned from Africa, Stone contemplated his next move.
“I had even less of an idea about what I wanted to do when I came back from Africa,” Stone said.
However, while he considered his options, he decided to catch up with his best friend from high school who had become a bond trader, which became another pivotal and serendipitous moment in Stone’s life.
Stone’s friend suggested getting in touch with someone he knew about being an open outcry bond broker, a type of securities trading where buyers and sellers communicate directly with each other vocally.
This moment became Stone’s foray into a nearly 30-year career in finance, working in New York City at Liberty Brokerage and later at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, as well as others.
“Imagine the New York Stock Exchange, in the old days, people yelling and screaming cacophony,” Stone said. “And you’re thinking, ‘how do these people know what they’re doing above the din?’ It was a relationship business, where your success was proportional to the health of your relationship with the traders.”
Stone felt his job in finance was a culmination of what he had learned up to that point: from maintaining relationships and making connections, to having the confidence to know what he was capable of.
“I found a career that epitomized what I had learned,” he said.
However, after 15 years in the business in New York, meeting his wife, and having two boys, he found that it was time to slow down and take care of the new relationships in his life.
“It was a demanding line of work that took a lot of your time,” Stone said.
With that, Stone turned to Maine again for a change of pace, and opened the Bowdoin Alumni directory to see if he could land a job. After a many phone calls and interviews, he secured a position in Portland, and the Stone family moved to Newcastle.
“I had transferable skills but I didn’t feel confident moving somewhere I didn’t have an umbilical cord,” Stone said. “My umbilical cord was Bowdoin, so moving to Maine, to a place commutable to Portland, seemed advantageous.”
Stone has worked in the area at First National Bank since 2010.
While the Stone family was adjusting to their new life in Newcastle on Glidden Street, Stone, along with the rest of the nation, received the devastating news of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.
A day difficult for many Americans struck Stone harder than some, when he learned his friends and colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald, a firm located in the World Trade Center’s North Tower, had died in the attacks.
In an email he sent out to his colleagues and family members this September, detailing the complicated emotions the month brings, Stone says he calls the loved ones of those friends and colleagues he lost, in an annual ritual of remembrance and love.
“The conversations are part memorial and part testament to the beauty that we find in life,” Stone said.
During his time in the Twin Villages, Stone’s presence and positive influence is evidenced by the collection of accolades and positions he’s received and held over the years, such as the 2005 Maine Bankers Association Community Banker of the Year Award, serving as president of the Rotary Club of Damariscotta-Newcastle in 2004-2005, the Rotary International Vocational Service Award recipient in 2002, and the president for Big Brothers Big Sisters Mid-Maine chapter.
“I love connecting people,” Stone said. “It’s important to support the community in every way you can and if I can do that by being involved or introducing someone, I will.”
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