As we turn onto the first page of another year, we cannot forsake 2023 without taking a final glimpse at two phenomenal Mainers who took leave of us during this just past eventful year.

Dave Silverbrand

Mainers under 45 likely won’t remember this one time household name who died last January at the age of 76

But they should.

Dave Silverbrand was for nearly 20 years from the early 1970’s to the early 1990’s the leading – if not the only – TV journalist in the state who devoted his professional time to human interest reporting. It was a forerunner to what in the last generation has been popularized by Bill Green’s Maine.

He was also the author of two of the best Maine books of the 1980’s: Marvelous Mainers and Dave’s People, together capturing in literary form the best of his many features.


As Maine TV anchor Kim Block recalled, “Dave was a legend in Maine broadcasting – a wonderful storyteller…mentor and friend.”

Another long time TV journalist who worked closely with Dave is Bill Johnson: “I loved the way Dave shined a light on people who would seldom be recognized, honoring the little guy. He was one of the most pleasant guys I ever worked with, always kind and amusing,” Johnson wrote to this columnist last week.

Dave was born in California in 1946.. Shortly after earning a journalism degree at San Jose State, he came to Maine in 1970, first as anchorman for Presque Isle’s WAGM TV.

Nineteen seventy-two found Dave sharing this columnist’s desk in the newsroom at Portland’s Channel 13 TV where he would remain until 1990.

I’ll never forget one of the first stories he did that turned page in the way Maine TV portrayed the viewers it served. One day Dave’s investigative curiosity was aroused by the frequent visits an itinerant shoe shine “boy” made to the fourth floor of Congress Street’s Gannett building that was then the station’s headquarters. Dave wound up following him as he made the rounds to innumerable locations in Downtown Portland. Both the young person’s persona as well as the backdrop of the places on his route struck such a responsive chord with viewers that news director Mike Craig authorized a plethora of further segments in a similar mold. .

In effect, Dave soon became the Charles Kuralt of Maine, profiling a back woods hermit one day and putting the spotlight on a blind lobster fisherman the next. It was as if John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley” had been made into a TV series. (It may be a coincidence that both Silverbrand and Steinbeck were born in California’s Salinas Valley.)


Among Dave’s profiles was of Sanford barber Emile Roy. It was a connection that unlocked the door to a friendship with one of the barber’s customers, future President George H.W. Bush. When in the 1980’s Silverbrand found himself in China at the same time as Bush a note from Dave to Bush mentioning that he was a friend of his Maine barber and “just wanted to say hello,” Bush soon called back. It marked the start of a long time association between the two, Silverbrand recalling a fishing trip in which Bush drove his speedboat “like a fighter plane.”

Nineteen ninety found Dave back on in California, continuing his feature journalism career for a number of North Coast California TV stations.

It was while back on the West Coast that Silverbrand developed a strong interest in Cuban culture, visiting the Caribbean island on several occasions. “Nothing says love like a cup of Cuban ice cream,” he reported in vintage Silverbrand fashion in 2016.

Silverbrand was predeceased by his wife of 20 years, Nina Winogradov, who was killed while walking their dog at an intersection near a middle school in Eureka, California in 2013. He is survived by one child, a daughter, Susannah from an earlier marriage in Maine.

Dave Crook

He had an improbable surname for one who for over 30 years was a criminal prosecutor. (According to Ancestry it’s from the Old Norse “Krokr,” meaning nook or bend and denoted someone who lived by a bend in a river or road.)


Be that as it may David Crook, who died in November at the age of 77 surmounted the handicap to become a prosecutor first in New York, subsequently back in his native Maine and then as the leading criminal prosecutor in the central Maine counties of Kennebec and Somerset in the 24 years from 1979 to 2003. He was elected six times to the post of District Attorney, a position held in recent years by Maeghan Maloney

The Brewer High School, U-Maine and Brooklyn New York Law School graduate – who along the way found time to teach and coach football at Madison High School – was a striking and familiar figure in trial practice, handling some 1500 child abuse cases and recognized for many years as one of the foremost practitioners in obtaining guilty verdicts in Operating under the Influence cases in the state. .

A highlight of his tenure was in the 1990’s successfully pushing the Maine legislature to enact a series of laws that gave crime victims expanded rights to restitution, the right to be heard at sentencing and more meaningful notification of plea bargain arrangements.

Indeed, it was during one of Crook’s early plea bargain negotiations in his first year back in Maine that this columnist first became acquainted with him when as a law student intern I observed his spirited and compelling debate with a defense attorney at Skowhegan’s Superior Court in 1975. Our paths crossed at various times in the ensuring decades.

His renown was such that he was elected not only president of the Maine Prosecutors Association but also to the board of the National District Attorneys Association.

Former Supreme Court Justice Donald Alexander emailed to this columnist recently that Crook was among the key “Leaders in the significant expansion and investigation and prosecution of intra-family physical and sexual abuse.”


Crook addressed the increased workload, according to Alexander, by working with various stakeholders to develop programs for first offenders who did not have a history of sexual or physical violence. As Alexander observed “This program promoted resolution of many child abuse cases with victims having a reasonably prompt resolution to clarify the path forward for their lives and defendants being held accountable with a sentence that resulted in jail time but not prison time followed by a long period of probation to help assure that the problems of the past do not repeat themselves.”

Waterville Attorney Charles Ferris, in whose firm Crook practiced for 15 years after stepping down as DA recalled for this columnist recently, “David was one of the most complex and fascinating characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. A giant of the legal community, David had an encyclopedic knowledge of the law and was a fantastic trial attorney, both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney.”

Crook is survived by his wife of 55 years, Barbara, whom he met while in college when he was the waterfront director at a summer camp in Dexter where she served as the camp RN, and also by two children and three grandchildren.

Paul Mills is a Farmington attorney well known for his analyses and historical understanding of public affairs in Maine. He can be reached at

Comments are not available on this story.