2012-12-14 / Front Page

Officer remembered for his humor, heart

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Officer Peter Corbett of the South Portland Police Department stands beside the memorial to Officer Peter MacVane. MacVane died Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the age of 61 after a five-year battle with cancer. (Jack Flagler photo) Officer Peter Corbett of the South Portland Police Department stands beside the memorial to Officer Peter MacVane. MacVane died Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the age of 61 after a five-year battle with cancer. (Jack Flagler photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – Police officers often have a reputation as stern individuals who, because of the serious nature of the work they do, have little time for jokes or humor. Peter MacVane did not fit that mold.

MacVane, a 34-year veteran of the South Portland Police Department, died Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the age of 61 after a fiveyear battle with cancer.

Photos of MacVane at a wake to remember his life, held Saturday, Dec. 8 in Portland, showed the police officer striking a fierce pose in front of a stuffed bear at a trip out west last month. Elsewhere he is flashing a thumbs up in a cowboy hat with his daughter by his side, and another has him in uniform pointing at the camera from his motorcycle.

MacVane’s outgoing, friendly personality made a mark on the community he served for three decades, according to his colleagues in the police department.

Dozens of people came to the wake at Hutchins Funeral Home Saturday to remember MacVane. Minutes after the service began, the line of people waiting to pay their respects to MacVane’s family stretched from the main common area through rows of seats before it extended out the main entrance and into the hallway.

“He had quite a life,” said South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins. “You talk about leaving a mark on the world, Peter left his mark.”

MacVane served as South Portland’s “Officer Friendly” for many years, speaking to schoolchildren about his work as a police officer. He organized the first Lobster Dip, an annual cold-water swim to benefit Special Olympics Maine, in 1988, along with other members of the Portland Rugby Club. He remained involved in charity work for the Special Olympics until his last days.

Googins said MacVane participated in a “Tip a Cop” event at the Red Robin restaurant in Scarborough as recently as September. MacVane also participated in the Trek Across Maine to benefit the American Lung Association for 14 years.

Retired South Portland police officer Kevin Battle, who worked with MacVane for more than 20 years, said MacVane found a “good niche” in city outreach.

“He really cared about a lot of projects in the community,” Battle said.

South Portland Police Officer Mike Matheson served with MacVane for 24 years on the force.

He said MacVane will be remembered for his passion for traveling, especially to America’s national parks.

“He’s done so much for so many people,” Matheson said.

A card from MacVane addressed to his mother among the photos at the funeral home’s front entrance summed up his sense of humor and his love for travel.

“Hi Mom, Son #2 hiking in the Grand Canyon on 9/10/07,” it read. “Tanned + Muscular;’ I have to brag a little.”

Constable Kelly Watters also remembered MacVane’s sense of humor. She said five years ago, after she had just met MacVane, she saw him while she was shopping in Target on Black Friday as she was ready to check out. When she was leaving the store, he tripped the sensor and loudly shouted that there was a shoplifter trying to get away.

Watters said she will remember him as a jovial and upbeat person who was quick with a joke and quick to give back to his community.

“His laugh was the biggest thing,” she said.

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