LEWISTON — Mike Danforth started at Lewiston Public Works when he was 18. Retiring this week at age 68, he owns the title of the longest tenured employee the city has ever had in one department. 

Danforth was honored Tuesday during a City Council workshop that celebrated his retirement after 50 years with the department. City staff, friends and family came out to pay tribute to Danforth, calling him a dedicated employee and lauding 50 years as a rare career achievement. 

“It was a brilliant career, that’s all I’ve got to say,” Danforth said Wednesday. “I wish more people could have a job somewhere like that, where you’re very happy until the end, and I was. It was the people around me that made it that way.” 

After the short ceremony Tuesday where he received a plaque, Danforth addressed the audience, many of them friends who were frequently calling out lighthearted jokes. 

He said when he walked onto the job at 18 years old, he never thought he’d be there 50 years later. A standing ovation followed. 

“This might be the most people we’ve had during a council workshop,” Mayor Shane Bouchard said Tuesday.


Danforth is a lifelong Lewiston resident, and through his five decades at Public Works, he’s handled a number of jobs. When he started in 1968, he first reported to a 20-man crew designated to sweep sidewalks. That tells you how times have changed, he said.

Soon after, a mentor at the department taught him to drive a dump truck, considered a “big deal” at the time, and Danforth has since spent winters on the road plowing and salting. Even last winter, on the verge of retirement, Danforth regularly plowed the downtown area.

“It’s going to feel funny when they come by the house and plow, or the salt truck comes by and I’m not on it,” he said. 

Over the years he also has worked at the city pit, been a senior maintenance manager with a three-person crew, cleaned catch basins with backhoes, and worked as the city courier, delivering mail to fellow city employees and elected officials. 

“I’ve been treated well,” he said. “It’s a manual job, but the city has always appreciated what I was doing.” 

He said many of his fellow employees are friends he grew up with. Some aren’t far behind him in terms of tenure, a few with 40-plus years at the department. 


“They’re not just my friends, they’re like my brothers,” he said Wednesday. 

That sentiment seems to be the main reason Danforth has stayed in the department so long. At one point, during the 1970s, he said he thought of taking a job at Bath Iron Works, but ultimately decided against it. 

“Everything works out the way it’s supposed to I guess,” he said. “I don’t regret it one minute.” 

On Tuesday, he was slightly overwhelmed by the attention at City Hall, he said. 

Public Works Director Dave Jones, who is also retiring at the end of the year, said Danforth was never at a loss for words on the job. But on Tuesday, Danforth was a little more reserved as he thanked everyone for the kind words. 

Denis D’Auteuil, deputy city administrator, said it’s rare to get that many city staff members together at once. He said it speaks to Danforth’s personality and the friendships he maintained over the years. 


“It’s really an impressive thing for an employee to go 50 years, and be dedicated to the community like that,” he said. “He’s very well-liked, a personable guy — one of those guys that people enjoyed seeing every day, and he’ll certainly be missed.” 

By midday Wednesday, a post on the city’s Facebook page about Danforth had a dozen comments, including one that read, “Mike is a legend!” 

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Mike Danforth, left, with Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard on Tuesday night at City Hall. (Submitted photo)

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