1942 - 2013
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Rufus Walter Andrews Wanning, 71, died at home May 10, 2013, in Orland, Maine, of leukemia, with his family around him and the aid of New Hope Hospice. Born in Boston, MA, the son of the late Andrews and Patricia Wanning, Rufus grew up in Cambridge and in the Hudson River Valley. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and from Harvard University magna cum laude with a major in physics. He went on to study philosophy at Heidelberg University, Germany, and Cambridge University, England.
Rufus married Virginia (Dindy) Royster in 1970, and they moved to Blue Hill, Maine, leading a wave of "summer people" who settled in as year-round residents. They raised two children and were founding parents of The Bay School. Rufus became a highly respected master arborist, founding Wanning Tree Service and playing a pivotal role in protecting the American elms that add such towering beauty to Blue Hill, Castine, and many other peninsula towns.
Rufus was known for his erudition and fine logical mind, and was active throughout his life in social justice, anti-war, and environmental causes. His many letters to the editor were rare combinations of good sense and factual knowledge. He was active in the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Maine People's Alliance, the Hancock County Democrats, the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, the Orland Dam Committee, and was a trained volunteer for Hospice of Hancock County. He always lent a hand to anyone who asked, and invariably acted with high principles, humility and kindness.
Rufus was an inveterate reader, loved a good joke, and delighted in company of every kind. He took as much pleasure in playing blocks with children as in discussing philosophy with college professors. He was proud of managing life with bipolar disorder and mentored others with the same difficulty. His last wish was realized when he donated his brain to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center for research on brains of persons with significant psychiatric disorders.
Although loathe to leave life, he faced death courageously and with good humor. He leaves his cherished wife and partner in sustainable living, Margaret de Rivera of Orland, with whom he spent eleven years of marriage in great happiness; his two much-loved children, Martha Page (Molly) Cooper and Alton Andrews (Andy) Wanning; and a beloved granddaughter, Dinah Royster Cooper. Also greatly bereaved are his sister, Esther Wanning, and brother, Thomas Wanning, as well as devoted cousins, four loving stepchildren, and many dear friends. A memorial service will be held in Blue Hill in the summer.
Rufus may be remembered with donations to WERU or Sustainable Harvest International. You might also honor his memory by stopping by the Orland Market for a Rufus sandwich.
Published on NYTimes.com from May 20 to May 21, 2013