William Herbert Hoxie December 17th 1942—November 30, 2022.
CORNISH- William Herbert Hoxie—amazing husband, father, grandfather, teacher, and all-around best human being ever—died peacefully at home on November 30, 2022 surrounded by family and love.
Born in his favorite small Maine town of Milo to William E. and Margaret Dunham Hoxie, he grew up hunting, fishing and enjoying life near the Piscataqua River with his parents and younger sister Linda. When he lost his beloved father to cancer at the young age of nine Billy became the man of the house. His grandfathers and uncles stepped in as his male role models and made sure that he was able to fine tune his hunting and fishing skills, the former of which earned him the nickname “Hawkeye” that lasted through adulthood.
Bill was the first person in his family to attend college and without a huge input of effort was a high honor student, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knew him. While still a student at Gorham State Teachers College Bill met and married his future wife, Margaret in 1963. Some of Bill’s best times and shenanigans were during his college years; he worked summers as a ranger at Mt. Blue State Park and had a tight-knit group of fellow teaching students who became lifelong friends. Upon graduating in 1965, Bill started his illustrious and fulfilling career as a biology, physics and math teacher, furthering his education by completing a master’s degree in 1969.
After moving to Cornish with Margaret and his daughters in 1971, Bill quickly established a reputation as the “go to” guy in the community. If something needed fixing, he could do it. If a helping hand was needed, he would lend it; he served as a Selectman, Planning Board member, president of the Ossipee Valley Fair, a board member of Riverside Cemetery, an EMT with Sacopee Rescue, and was a lifelong member of the Cornish Fire Department. Bill was famous among his students for knowing virtually anything there was to know, whether it was how to change spark plugs or when various world events occurred, how to set a broken bone, or the genus and species of hundreds of different plants and animals. As many people said, Bill Hoxie was the guy you’d want on your “phone a friend” list if you were ever a contestant on a game show. His daughter Karen always told her coworkers that she had to behave herself at work because whenever any hospital patients anywhere in Maine saw her name badge with the last name of Hoxie, they would undoubtedly ask if she was related to Bill.
Bill loved teaching and his students and coworkers adored him. He started his teaching career as a science teacher at Gorham Junior High, then taught biology and physics at Gorham High School for fifteen years. Never one to be idle, he also worked at the local hardware store during summers and weekends. In 1982 he joined the staff at Sacopee Valley High School and taught biology there until his retirement in 2000. Many, many students over the years benefited from his skills at making learning fun, whether it was by being able to endlessly talk him into postponing tests, by enjoying his sarcastic and irascible sense of humor and one-liners, or by his calm, cool demeanor and ability to be distracted into telling long-winded stories instead of administering homework. When it was discovered by his biology class that his middle name was Herbert, he immediately became “Herb” to the majority of the school, a name which his former students use to this day. He was instrumental in starting and serving as advisor to the Sacopee Junior Rescue which benefited not only the students whom he mentored and trained but also the greater Sacopee community. To keep himself busy during summers and weekends Bill started a fixit/saw sharpening business that was famous for producing quality, thorough products and services, always at his own pace but finished with his trademark huge grin.
As great as he was at teaching, his role as husband, Dad and even more so as “Pa” were Bill’s ultimate achievements. Worshipped first by his wife and daughters and then especially by his grandchildren, Pa was the ultimate playmate, friend, source of endless transportation anywhere, wrestling matches, advice, and calm reassurances for each generation. Never one to be phased by much, he was a constant in our lives, the person we knew that we could always count on for quite literally anything. The number of times he got us out of scrapes by happily doing things like pulling cars out of the snow and mud with his truck, fixing things that we broke, restarting our furnaces, and repairing burst pipes number in the hundreds.
After retiring from teaching in 2000 Bill kept busy with home projects, his fixit business and spending time with his family. Annual trips to Florida and the eastern seaboard were a highlight, as was a trip of a lifetime to Alaska he took with his son-in-law John and uncle Wayne. During retirement he was happy to have more free time to play golf with his teammates Dick and Ron, make trips up north to his beloved hunting camp in Barnard Plantation with his friend Harold, and to hang out as much as possible with his grandchildren. He loved watching the Red Sox and Patriots and attended every single sporting or school event in which his children or grandchildren ever participated. In 2009 he was diagnosed with PLS and as it worsened over the years he battled on without ever, not even once, complaining about his lot in life. Never a guy known for moving or talking really quickly anyway, Bill continued with his slow and steady approach to life and made his own version of adaptations as the disease progressed. He continued to moderate town meetings for Cornish as well as serve on the planning board and fire department until a few years ago when his health issues made it too challenging.
Bill is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret; his daughter Karen and her husband John Morrissey who he loved as his own son, and daughter Kristin. He is lovingly survived by his five grandchildren: Jenna Wing and her husband Chris; Lianne Staples and her husband Dana; Jack Morrissey; Roger Lanoie; Kay Hussey and her husband Andrew. He is also survived by three great-grandchildren: Caroline who brought him unspeakable joy during the past four years, a baby girl who will be arriving in January, and great-grandson Cole. His uncle Wayne, sister Linda and her life partner Ben, sister-in-law Shirley, brother-in-law Ken, and several nieces, nephews and cousins survive him as well.
While we will miss Bill every single day, we feel so lucky to have had this giant of a man in our lives and are also fortunate to live in a community that loved and supported him, Margaret, and our family to the very end. While it would be impossible to thank everyone who helped in Bill’s journey, special acknowledgment and thanks go to members of the Cornish Fire Department who jumped in to lend a hand whenever needed, to Dr. Joe deKay for his decades of care, to Northern Light Home Hospice, to Cornish Hardware for taking customer service for Bill and Margaret to a level way more than above and beyond, to the many community members and complete strangers who assisted us in helping Bill navigate high school sporting events without ever being asked, and especially to Molly Nelson whose support as a death doula enable our family get through this incredible loss with calmness, focus, peace and dignity. During the toughest of times, Bill was further blessed by his grandchildren Jenna, Lianne, and Jack as well as Dana Staples and Chris Wing, who dropped everything to lend a hand to him as he always did for them over the years.
We know that we will continue to sense Bill’s presence as we move forward, whether it is when we see him walking in the woods, grinning up at us and covered in grease under a truck he’s fixing (undoubtedly still wearing a dress shirt from school), in the bleachers at Sacopee sporting events, or at happenings around town. He will be reunited in Heaven with his parents, mother- and father-in-law Ken and Lena, his uncles Gene and Herb, best friend Tom, buddies Larry and Ron, and many others who will be welcoming him with big smiles. An obituary for Bill could literally take up dozens of pages, but those who knew him certainly don’t need any more details about how awesome and legendary he was because they are already acutely aware. There will never be another Bill Hoxie, and for that we are sad not only for us but also for the world; he was short in stature but larger than life, and we will honor him best knowing that everybody dies, but not everybody truly lives…and live, he certainly did.
Visiting hours will be held at Poitras, Neal & York Funeral Home in Cornish from 2 to 8pm on Monday December 19th, with burial at Riverside Cemetery in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial scholarship for Sacopee Valley High School students will be established. Donations may be mailed to: The Hoxie Family, PO Box 12, Cornish, Maine 04020.