Phil Bolduc, owner of Neokraft Signs of Lewiston, addresses a crowd Friday evening to dedicate the “Hopeful” sign his company donated to his hometown of Rumford in memory of his father who immigrated to the town from Quebec in 1957. “God has been very good to me, and I had an opportunity to share this with the town,” the New Gloucester resident said. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — A lighted sign spelling “Hopeful” in colorful letters on a downtown building was dedicated Friday evening in memory of Jean Bolduc, who immigrated to the town from Quebec in 1957.

It was donated by his son, Phil Bolduc, owner of Neokraft Signs of Lewiston and the Hopeful Project led by Charlie Hewitt of Lewiston.

“This is my hometown,” Bolduc said. “I wanted this spot. I went to the movie theater right here when I was a kid.”

The sign graces the side of the building housing Oxford County Mental Health Services at 150 Congress St. To the left of it are the words “In memory of Jean Bolduc.” To the right are the words “He was always hopeful for Rumford.” Below it are the words “in Rumford.”

He said his father loved Rumford.

“He came here because his brother, Leo Bolduc, owned a logging company here in Rumford and he needed some help,” Bolduc said. “My dad was a mechanic, an auto body man, and he was asked to help (his brother). And my dad moved here (from Quebec) in 1957. In 1958, my father bought a small gas station on Waldo Street.”


That site became Rumford Body Shop, a fixture for a number of years.

“He always told us kids, ‘This is going to be one amazing town,'” Bolduc said.

Bolduc, who resides in New Gloucester, said he grew up in Rumford and saw the sign as a way to give back to his hometown. He was a member of the Rumford High School Class of 1979 and joined the U.S. Navy that year.

“God has been very good to me, and I had an opportunity to share this with the town,” he said. “Being able to do this means a lot. Rumford has always had a place in my heart. So, this is our gift to you guys.”

Town Manager Stacy Carter said Bolduc and Hewitt asked about the possibility of erecting the sign. Town officials and Oxford County Mental Health Services welcomed it, he said.

“They knew that Rumford was growing,” Carter said. “They knew there was a lot of hope in Rumford. We welcomed it with open arms because it fits our town so perfectly.


“We’d been stagnant for a lot of years,” Carter said. “But over the last two or three years, we are starting to have growth, positive spirits, and this is really a great addition to our community. It will be magnificent as the sun goes down and the sign gets brighter. It’s going to make everybody more hopeful.”

Oxford County Mental Health Services has started a Hope Garden below the sign.

According to Charlie Hewitt Studio, Hewitt began The Hopeful Project in 2019 with a single lighted aluminum sign commissioned by Speedwell Projects for the roof of its headquarters building in Portland.

“Maine is a dark place in the winter,” Hewitt said. “I felt compelled to illuminate that corner of our world with a message of hope.”

To date, the “Hopeful” message has spread with installations across seven states, including one on the side of Bates Mill on Main Street in Lewiston.

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