PARIS – Alton L. Howe II, an Oxford County sheriff for 18 years, died Friday following a long-term illness. He was 83.

Roland Beaudoin, Howe’s administrative assistant, remembered the sheriff as “a fine individual, a gentleman, and a truly dedicated public servant.”

Howe’s son Chip remembers his father sitting on the front steps of their home in Waterford and counseling members of the community who would come to Howe with various marital and personal issues.

“He was a man of tremendous wisdom, who in very few words could encourage and guide somebody,” said Chip Howe. “My father had a certain calming air about him.”

Howe, busy with his tenure as sheriff and as past master of the Mount Tirem Lodge in Waterford, was always “an unbelievable father,” said his daughter, April Olmstead.

“He always made my birthday very special, even when I became an adult,” Olmstead said. “He would call me just to share his fond memories of the day I was born.”

Howe took his duties as a father seriously because he lost his own father when he was so young. He learned many of his parenting techniques from his mother, who raised four children by herself.

Howe, a self-taught guitarist, entertained his children with music just as his mother had soothed the children with hymns. Olmstead recalls many nights of singing along to her father’s guitar.

Oxford County Jail Administrator Capt. Ernest Martin credits Howe’s approachability for his success as sheriff.

“He was a common man,” Martin said. “Even the inmates liked him.”

Howe was popular for keeping his door open to anyone who needed help. People liked him so much, Martin said, Howe would still be sheriff today if he hadn’t retired.

A polite man, Howe abstained from using profanity.

“He used the phrase ‘Judas priest’ a lot when he was frustrated,” Martin said with a laugh.

Howe was known for whipping up a baking soda cocktail when under stress. Martin remembers Howe reaching into his drawer for the box during many of their conversations.

“He would mix the baking soda with water and then drink the concoction to soothe his heartburn,” recalled Martin.

Howe was instrumental in the establishment of Oxford County’s state-of-the art jail in 1979. At the time, the jail was designated by the National Institute of Corrections as a model for small jails around the country.

“I owe a lot of thanks to Alton for trusting me and launching my career as a jail administrator,” said Martin. He was hired by Howe in 1977.

Howe graduated from Norway High School in 1942, and joined the US. Army. After fighting in World War II, Howe returned to Maine and worked as a game warden in the Cherryfield area. An avid hunter, fisher, golfer and gardener, he adored anything that connected him with nature.

In 1970, Howe joined the Paris Police Department and became sheriff of Oxford County two years later.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Donna; their daughter, April; their son, Chip; and another son, Rodney. Survivors also include his sister, Marion, nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.

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