BAR HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The College of the Atlantic (COA) will always remember it's co-founder, Father James Gower, as a smart, caring man with a big sense of humor.
Father Jim, as he was commonly referred to, died early Monday morning at 90-years-old. The Bar Harbor native co-founded COA in 1968 after discussing with his friend, Les Brewer, how he wanted to do something for the community. As the legend goes Brewer mentioned how several residents wanted a college in their area and with that brief conversation, College of the Atlantic was born.
The first classes at the college started in September 1972. According to COA President Darron Collins, Gower was a moral and inspirational beacon for the college. "You rarely get the combination of compassion and brilliance really nicely put together in one individual, but with Father Jim you really got that," says Collins.
Even later on in his life, Gower made sure to have an active role within the college. He celebrated his 75th birthday climbing Mount Katahdin with incoming students. Professor of Ecology Natural History, John Anderson, worked with Gower for a quarter of a century. "He was a really marvelous man in terms of reading peoples emotions and then working with us to find the bright side of things," says Anderson of his long time friend.
A celebration of Father Gower's life is being planned for Friday, June 28 at 11 a.m. at the Holy Redeemer Church, with a reception following at The College of the Atlantic. The Gower family has set up The Father James Gower Scholarship Fund at COA. Contributions can be sent to: Father Gower Scholarship Fund, COA Development Office, 105 Eden St. Bar Harbor, ME 04609.