John J. Sylvester

August 5, 1941 - October 3, 2019

Service Date:

A celebration of John's life will be held on Sunday, November 3, 2019 from 1 - 4 p.m. at the Oak Street Bistro in Alfred. Friends and family are welcomed to wear flannel chamois type shirts in his honor.

John J. Sylvester of Alfred, beloved husband, father, and grandfather passed away on October 3, 2019, at the age of 78.

John was born in Portland, Maine, to John B. and Rose M. (McGowan) Sylvester, and attended Deering High School. Following his high school graduation, John attended Nasson College in Springvale, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business.  While at Nasson, John met his wife, Joan, who also attended college there.  John and Joan were married August 28, 1965.  Shortly after, John and Joan moved to Pennsylvania, where John worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance.  After a year out of state, John and Joan moved back “home” to Maine, and purchased their first home on Upper Oak Street in Springvale.  John returned to Nasson as their Director of Development.  He and Joan welcomed two daughters, Jennifer and Joanna.

In 1975, John and Joan purchased their second home, and moved with their daughters to Alfred. John left Nasson and started his own logging and stone masonry business.  Of note are the stone walls he built for former President George Bush, on the Walker’s Point property in Kennebunkport.  John continued to work up until he passed away, processing firewood, landscaping, and plowing driveways during the winter.  His daughter Joanna worked alongside him for the last 30 years.

John was a strong and committed provider and family man. He tended to his family in large and small ways over the years of his life.  At the time he became self-employed, with two young children, John managed to support their love of horses.  The home in Alfred became refuge for many ponies, horses, chickens, ducks, goats, and cats over the years of his life.  John believed the animals would provide a sense of responsibility for his daughters, who learned early on what it means to take care of someone else.  John also cared deeply for the Town of Alfred, and committed a lot of his time and energy doing what he could to ensure Alfred would remain an enjoyable and friendly community.  John established many solid relationships with countless numbers of people during his lifetime.  He and Joan were the Grand Marshalls in the Alfred Festival Parade in 2017.

John lived a life of public service, starting in the late sixties as the sole professional fundraisers for the Sanford-Springvale YMCA. He, and other volunteers, spent 10 years generating the funding to construct the Y.  Following its completion, John served as the Board President for many years.  John was nominated by the Sanford-Springvale Jaycees as their Man of the Year for his efforts.  John was also a life time member of Sanford Kiwanis Club, having also served as President of Kiwanis.  In 2009, John was inducted into the Nasson College Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

John also served on the Board of Directors for the Animal Welfare Society from 1996 – 2002 and People’s Bank, now TD Bank. John followed his passion for leadership and impact by joining the Maine Municipal Association, where he served on the Maine Municipal’s Executive Committee from 2005-2012, and became the President for MMA in 2010.  John also served on Maine Municipal’s Legislative Policy Committee from 2010-2015.  John was the founder of the 12 Town Group, inviting leaders from the towns surrounding Alfred to unite with a common purpose to ensure quality of life remained as the towns wanted it.  John has been a long standing member of the York County Budget Committee, serving as the Board Chair for many years, up until his passing.  John and his wife, Joan, were the recipients of the York County Community Action Teddie Award for outstanding community service in 2013.  John also received the York County Shelter Bread Board Award for his years of volunteerism in 2007 on behalf of homeless individuals and families.

John’s longest standing tenure as a public servant was as the Selectman for the Town of Alfred. John filled the Selectman’s seat for a total of 23 years.  John made an impact that will live on for years to come; ensuring members of the Town of Alfred have a place to call home.  The Town and its people meant a lot to John.

John will likely be remembered for his wonderful smile and twinkling eyes. He was a jokester at times, often making the waitresses at the Oak Street Bistro or Mel’s Raspberry Patch laugh.  John always had time for others, and ultimately wanted to see people happy.

His family collectively wants to acknowledge the role model and exceptional man he was. That he lived an honest life of determination, with a solid work ethic.  He was not easily rattled, going about his day in a somewhat quiet, deliberate way.  He loved his family and was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and provider.  We will miss his presence, guidance, strength, and his love.

John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joan, his daughters Jennifer and Joanna, sons in law Ray and Chad, two grandchildren, Savannah and Zachary, a sister Margaret and her husband Howard, a sister Kathy and her husband Tom, 2 nieces, Cindy and Katy, 4 nephews, Mike, Chris, Jack, and Ed, and his little dog Skeeter.

A celebration of John’s life will be held on Sunday, November 3, 2019 at the Oak Street Bistro in Alfred, from 1-4 p.m. Friends and family are welcomed to wear flannel chamois type shirts in his honor.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to York County Community Action Fuel Assistance Fund, 6 Spruce St., Sanford, Maine 04073.

The Autumn Green Funeral Home is respectfully handling arrangements.

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