’Round Town


Wed, 09/01/2021 - 7:15am

I missed the Rear Admiral portion of David Stinson's life. Back in the 1980s, he was mostly the Reverend Joseph David Stinson and good friend, even though we were not members of his flock at the Boothbay Harbor Congregational Church.

David and wife Cindy landed in Boothbay Harbor in 1982. During that period of my career, I photographed many weddings with David and attended more than a couple funerals conducted under his watch. Boothbay Harbor was a fair piece from his hometown of Bonham in East Texas and an interesting transition from Yale where he attended divinity school. Somehow he managed!

David and Cindy were back in Maine to attend and participate in the memorial service for Bob Foster at the Ocean Point Chapel. David was part of significant clergical attendence and helped to officiate. I had never seen him in Rear Admiral uniform but I believe he mostly represented his religious affiliation and friendship. That much I did recognize. It had been a long time since we'd crossed paths. He had let me know that he was headed our way, and I wanted to say hi. It was a busy morning at the Chapel. Not a great place to catch up and reminisce, but we managed to recall a few things and share a couple lighthearted stories, for which David is quite famous.

Our most significant experience, speaking of lighthearted stories, with Reverend Stinson happened in 1988 when we found ourselves about halfway along in the pregnancy of our first child. Susan and I had been together for about 10 years but were not married. Our families, when they found out, were happy for us, but very upset about not being married! So, we gave David a call. “Have any plans for St. Patrick’s Day, Uncle David? We need to get married!”

I called old friend Larry Knapp, who I'd known from my early Little River days, to see if he would be willing to take a small group of us out on his boat for a brief wedding ceremony. We wanted to include our old dear friend Virginia Inness-Brown, but due to health issues she would not be able to attend. So we asked Larry to drop anchor right off from Virginia's cottage on Little River where she could look out her bedroom window and observe the festivities. David was our officiant. The deed was done. Families appeased.

David was in Boothbay Harbor for 10 years, then moved on to Glen Ridge, New Jersey, right next to where I had taught in Montclair. He even got to know former students of mine and I photographed a wedding with David there, just like the old days in Maine. During his 20 years in Glen Ridge, David became Rear Admiral Stinson working a lot with returning veterans from Middle East wars and helping families with loss. While in New Jersey, David and Cindy grew their family and purchased a home in New Hampshire back in Cindy's familiar territory.

It was good to see David and Cindy. There has been a lot of change here in the area since they left, which our renewing visit seemed to ignore. Seeing old friends can do that. There are many good memories from “back in the day.” I was outranked but it didn't seem to matter. Nice to catch up.