MEXICO – One of two large stones from Harpswell embedded with plaques commemorating the 34 victims of the Don boating tragedy in 1941 in Casco Bay has been placed on the Mexico Green. The other memorial rock is in Harpswell.

The Don was a Harpswell cabin cruiser that mysteriously disappeared on June 29, 1941, after departing on a pleasure cruise to Monhegan Island.

Although most of the 34 people on board were from Rumford and Mexico, others were from Auburn, Harpswell, Livermore Falls and Canada.

Mexico Historical Society and town officials will dedicate the Mexico memorial in a special ceremony starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Mexico Green along Route 2.

Rumford Town Manager Len Greaney and Mexico Town Manager John Madigan will cut the ribbon for the memorial, according to society board member and past President Calvin Lyons. Lyons designed the plaque for the Mexico stone.

“We’re sending invitations to all the people who donated (for the memorial), but we’d like to see anybody down there who’s got ancestors who were lost on the Don,” Lyons said at a society meeting early Tuesday evening.

At that meeting, members were working on a program for the ceremony, which will include guitarist James Gallant performing the song he wrote about the Don disaster.

Also attending is Stacy L. Welner, author of “Tragedy in Casco Bay,” a book about the disaster.

Aletta Ricker of Harpswell donated the stone for the Mexico memorial.

The rock was trucked to the society by Dayl Kaulback and his wife, Elise, of North Jay. Dayl Kaulback is a scuba diver who, with his team of Wilton-area shipwreck divers, has conducted a needle-in-a-haystack search for the past few years to find the remains of the Don and determine why it sank.

Kaulback, a descendant of one of the passengers, has said his team is trying to find what’s left of the wreck to provide closure to surviving kin and friends of the 34 victims.

Lyons said he had Mexico Public Works employees cut out a section of the rock, embed the plaque into it, then put it on the town green near a little wooden bridge on a walking path.

Flowers will be placed around the stone, which is ringed with small white rocks. An area Boy Scouts troop will erect a bench behind the memorial.

Visiting the memorial on Tuesday evening, society historian Irene Hutchinson, who researched the disaster to help create the plaque, and President Connie Tutlis, whose friend Benjamin Robertson lost his 18-year-old son William Robertson to the disaster.

Brushing dust from the plaque, which lists the names of all who died, their towns and occupations, Hutchinson saw and ran her hands over red layers in the stone surrounding the plaque, which were lit by the setting sun.

“That rock is gorgeous. It feels like the ocean,” she said to Tutlis.


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