AUBURN – Some will remember Harry E. Nason Jr. as a local businessman, the last of three generations to run Harry E. Nason Inc., a plumbing and heating business started by his grandfather.
Even when the company changed hands and the name was changed to Nason Mechanical Systems, he stayed on board as president and kept busy.
“I tell you, he was in his 80s and he was going to work every day,” said Chip Morrison, president of the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce, who worked with Nason in many different capacities over the years.
Others remembering Nason, who died Saturday in his residence at Schooner Estates, shared similar memories of him as a caring man with an equally tireless devotion to the community.
“He’s done a lot for not just the city of Auburn, but the Twin Cities,” said Clifton Smith, former chief of the Auburn Fire Department.
The men met as Nason spearheaded efforts to coordinate emergency services between Auburn and Lewiston in the late 1970s.
“He had a way of bringing people together from both sides of the river for a common goal,” Smith said. Referring to the emergency services project, he added, “It was probably one of the first collaborations between cities in Maine.”
In addition to the emergency services effort, Nason was heavily involved with organizations that included the American Red Cross, the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce, the Auburn-Lewiston Breakfast Rotary Club and the Maine State Plumbing Contractors’ Association. He also served as a trustee of the Auburn Water District for 15 years, and on the parish council at St. Philip’s Church.
Through his emergency services work, Nason ended up serving as 911 chairman for the Twin City 911 System from 1979 to 1987, and was appointed by the governor to serve on a state 911 council.
“He was a gentleman and a pillar in the community,” said Normand Lamie, general manager of the water district. Lamie said he became involved with organizations like Rotary through his friendship with Nason, whom he knew for 20 years.
“He was involved with everything,” Lamie said, adding that Nason just “enjoyed life.”
Nason also was a fiscally sound individual who wanted to see the water district run like a business, he said.
Peter Murphy bought the home on Fairview Avenue where Nason and his wife, Frances Ann Jacubouis, once lived. Everyone seemed to know Harry Nason, he said.
And while Murphy was not close to the Nasons, he was touched by Harry Nason’s kindness when he moved from Hollis with his family.
“One of the things that I really appreciated was that Harry let us move in a lot of stuff before we even closed on the house, a month or so before,” he said. “He just was really nice.”
Nason was born June 28, 1919, in Auburn, a son of Harry E. Nason Sr. and Ursula Russell Nason. After attending schools in the city, he joined the military, serving in the 240th Coast Artillery, then with the 15th Air Force in Italy before being honorably discharged in 1945. He also served with the Maine National Guard before joining his father in business.