The Fairfield man killed in an accident related to this past week’s catastrophic storm is being remembered by friends and colleagues as a dedicated mental health provider who worked to help homeless people in the region.

William Tanner of Fairfield, a case manager at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville, was killed earlier this week in a storm-related accident. Photo courtesy of Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter

Dr. William Tanner, known as Bill, was fondly remembered by his loved ones for serving the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville for eight years. As a case manager, Tanner worked closely with those at the shelter and provided the help they needed.

“He was a tireless advocate for folks to enter recovery,” said David Sovetsky, the program director of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, who has served in his role for almost seven years and hired Tanner in 2016. Sovetsky said Tanner helped countless people deal with addiction and enter recovery programs.

Tanner, 77, was killed earlier this week during the devastating storm on Monday. He was trying to move a tree with his tractor when he was struck by the tree. The storm dumped several inches of rain in the state and left many without power for days.

“It’s an incredible loss to the recovery community overall,” Sovetsky said.

As his former student at the University of Maine in Augusta, Sovetsky recalls Tanner being very forthright and headstrong in his thoughts.


“He would tell you exactly what he saw and would lay things out the way it is,” Sovetsky said.

The shelter took to Facebook to pay tribute to the late doctor, and those worked with him closely offered their condolences.

“It was such a pleasure Bill, I learned so much from you and all you had to offer,” one user wrote. “It was a pleasure working with and getting to know you,” another added.

At the shelter, people remember Tanner as someone who was fun-loving and kind, they said.

“When this man believed in you, he went all out for you,” said Lisa Wescott. “You don’t find people like that anymore.”

Wescott, who knew Tanner for over six years, recalls how he saved her life from an abusive marriage. Tanner helped her formalize her divorce and get a permanent protection from abuse order against her ex-husband.


“He was the first man that listened to me when nobody else did,” she said. “The man literally saved my life.”

Tanner also helped Wescott keep her apartment during the pandemic and served as her lawyer. He would, Wescott said, always look after people dealing with mental health issues and help them out in whatever capacity he could, Wescott said.

Tanner spent his time at the shelter helping those with addiction get into recovery programs. He would often offer to drive them to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Sovetsky said, and arrange a meeting for those who needed it.

“There was nothing this man couldn’t do,” Wescott said.

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