OWL’S HEAD – Stuart Wells Thro, 77, passed away unexpectedly at Pen Bay Medical Center on Thursday, September 5, 2019.
Born in Rockford, Illinois on April 13, 1942, Stuart was the second of Arlin and Mavis Thro’s four children. He was born with a congenital heart defect and doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital bluntly told his parents after his first open heart operation at age 14 that they did not expect him to survive past the age of 16. He outlived their prediction by 61 years thanks to many supportive physicians and four additional open-heart operations along the way in addition to a strong will and the support of many loving family members.
Stuart grew up in Illinois, New York, and Hingham, Mass where he developed an early interest in telecommunications. His siblings recall how he hand built a radio for their parents’ bedroom and selected and installed a high gain antenna system for the house while just a teenager. “The solder pot was always on in his bedroom workshop,” recalled one of his brothers.
Following his passion, Stuart obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, OH in 1964. His interests dovetailed nicely with the then relatively new field of telecommunications, and he became a telecommunications systems engineer at Motorola for the next 32 years, patenting multiple inventions. He met and married his wife, Mary Ellen (née Lehtinen) in the late 1960’s and they relocated to Illinois for his working career with Motorola. He was very involved with family and in his community, and later obtained an MBA from Northern Illinois University.
Stuart played jazz piano and planned/orchestrated family expeditions to Alaska, England/Scotland/Wales, Polynesia, the Northwest Passage, and Greenland, to name just a few. In addition, Stuart had a passion for genealogy and, starting at age 10, began researching his family origins extensively, an interest that developed naturally from his love of history and which he continued and expanded on diligently until the end of his life. He connected with many far-flung family members in this way and shared interesting stories he learned about his ancestors. He also enjoyed bird-watching and conscientiously filled feeders for the birds (and likely a few racoons and foxes besides) throughout all seasons and weather. Stuart especially enjoyed watching the return of the hummingbirds to the special feeder he put out faithfully year after year after their northward migration.
Having spent a significant amount of their childhoods in New England, Stuart and Mary Ellen retired and relocated to Owl’s Head in 2000. They took to their new community right away and Stuart was very active through the years in many local organizations including the Rockland Rotary Club, the Midcoast Power Squadron (later the Wawenock Sail & Power Squadron), the Knox County Democrats, and the Mussel Ridge Historical Society. He believed strongly in being a citizen-advocate and was widely-read in American history, knowledge which he drew upon while working tirelessly with others to create a more effective and inclusive democracy. No matter what the task, he kept a good sense of humor and perspective. He also was committed to preserving the history of Owl’s Head, and had recently begun working with the Mussel Ridge Historical Society to help develop a community historical building that will make this history and memorabilia publicly accessible for generations to come.
Stuart was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 51 years Mary Ellen; his daughter Holly Thro, all of Owl’s Head; two brothers, Arlin Brooker Thro (and wife Elaine) of Marina del Rey, California, Frederick Thro (and wife Mary) of Madison, Wisconsin; his sister Elizabeth “Buffy” Levitt of Orleans, Massachusetts; as well as and multiple nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. He was greatly loved and respected, and will be missed by all those who knew him.
A celebration of Stuart’s life will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 104 Limerock in Rockland, Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home’s reception facility. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Mussel Ridge Historical Society, PO Box 133, Owl’s Head, ME 04854.