Donald Oakes. Submitted photo

Donald Oakes, right, reminiscing with a friend. Submitted photo

The Wilton Football Giants with their coach Donald Oakes. Submitted photo

WESTBROOK — Donald Oakes was a beloved husband, father, friend and coach. He was a well-known resident of Wilton, who passed away peacefully on Friday, Feb. 3, with his wife Louise and family by his side at daughter Diane’s home in Westbrook. He was cared for there by his daughter Dolores. Donald touched the lives of many people, especially young athletes in the area.

Oakes was born in Lewiston, the fifth of seven children of Harold and Dorothy (Mason) Oakes. He attended one year of school in Rangeley and then attended Jay schools where he graduated Jay High School in 1955. He enjoyed playing baseball, basketball, and football for those memorable four years.

Oakes married Louise “Dolly” M. Cornelio on Sept. 17, 1955, at St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic Church in Riley, Maine, by Father William J. Kelly. They were married more than 67 years!

He was a communicant of St. Rose of Lima Church in Jay.

The Oakes bought a home in Wilton where they raised seven children. He coached the Giants Little League football team 10 years and Little League Baseball three years. He received a Legislative award for his baseball career in high school and for coaching youth sports. It read: Donald Oakes, of Wilton, who will be inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. During his high school career, Mr. Oakes pitched 40 of the 60 games his team played, losing only two games in 4 years. He had two no-hitters, struck out 14 batters in one game and had an average of eight strike-outs in all other games. In his semi-pro career, he had a batting average of close to .300 with several home runs and pitched 160 games, including one no-hitter, winning nearly all of them. He coached youth sports for 14 years. We extend our appreciation to Mr. Oakes for his commitment to the youth of the State and congratulate him on his being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame; (HLS 396)

Football was Oakes most successful sport in high school and his scrapbook reveals this in many yellowed clippings. He was very successful coaching the Wilton Giants a Little League football team sponsored by Starbird Lumber Company. He was honored at their season end banquet with a sweater and a plaque, after the Giants completed an undefeated season in 1978. It was nothing new, in 1979 he had been coaching the Giants for 10 years and they were again, the champions.


On July 29, 2007, Oakes was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in Portland. Attending this event was his wife, seven children, their spouses, and many grandchildren. He was an excellent Southpaw (left-handed) pitcher and pitched two no-hitters, one during his high school career and one in a semi-pro league he played in. He pitched for teams in Wilton, Rumford, North Jay, Chisholm-Livermore, Monmouth, and Randolph.

When he told his seven children he was being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, many of them didn’t know he played baseball.

Oakes was courted by town teams when he was only 15 years old, playing four sports as a freshman at Jay High School. He pitched one of his no-hitters in a 10-inning shut out one Sunday that year. He played for eight to ten different semipro teams, playing five games in a week and pitching three. In fact, he pitched more than 160 games in a semipro baseball career that spanned four decades.

Don’s signature pitch was his curveball which he readily admits he threw about half the time. “Can’t you throw anything straight,” Don remembers many frustrated hitters asking him. Don learned to vary his curve from a loopy drop to a sharper slider to keep hitters off balance.

In a 2007 article by Kalle Oakes (no relation) he related the story of his activities the day after he pitched the 10 inning no-hitter: The next day, without telling his coach Cliff Weymouth about his Sunday triumph, he tried to take the pitcher’s mound in a state high school tournament game in Norway.

“At that age, you don’t think you can hurt yourself. I couldn’t get the ball over the plate,” he said. Needless to say, Coach Weymouth came out to the mound and took him off the field.


As the innings mounted, the game eventually took its toll on Don and the golden arm began to tarnish. He retired from active competition in his mid-thirties, content that he had given it his all whenever he took the mound. “It was all I ever wanted to do when I was younger,” Don said. “I couldn’t wait to get up the next morning, so I could go play baseball.”

He coached football for all three sons, David, Donald and Daniel, until Daniel was diagnosed with a heart murmur. With encouragement from his father, Daniel turned to golf and became a proficient golfer. The Oakes enjoyed traveling to watch their son Daniel at his college golf tournaments.

Oakes worked at Otis Paper Mill for 45 years. He retired in 1999. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing. He was fortunate enough to get three hole-in-ones.

The Oakes also enjoyed trips to Florida, Branson, Missouri, Canada, and the US Virgin Islands. In more recent years, the Oakes enjoyed singing karaoke with daughter Debbie. Don’s favorite song was Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers, for which he often received a standing ovation. Lately, his newest hobby was playing the harmonica. “He played the harmonica for me every day,” said Dolly.

The Oakes celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last September at La Fleurs Restaurant in Jay with singer Sammy Angel as the entertainment.

It’s sad to say, but the era when Don played was the height of interest for town league baseball.

“I’m right on the tail end. They can say what they want, but the teams are petering out,” Don said. “Now [2007] when you are out of high school, unless you go on to college, you’re all done with baseball.”

He had an impressive career and levied his experience in baseball and football to coach young athletes. This Hall of Famer took a lot of experience with him. He is now coaching, and perhaps still pitching for a much higher power.


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