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Will Tuell: Maine State Legislature Representative-Elect for House District 139

Wow that's a long title, but it's worth it!  On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, my big brother found out he had won his election for Maine Legislature.  His first time running.  He started the journey months ago, and I've been watching from afar.  I, and my entire family (including in-laws!) are super proud of him.  I could go on and on about how great he is, but I'm pretty sure he's got his fill of that after winning! :)  So instead here are some (relatively) little-known facts about Maine's newest legislator (once he's sworn in on December 3).
  • Everyone calls him Will.  I call him William.  I have no idea why, but I'm just about the only one that does.  Scott does sometimes, because he hears me call him William, and I twitch because it sounds weird coming from someone else.
  • I may have mentioned before that he used to have a Petticoat Junction website.  That is long-defunct, but he's the reason I know so much html.  And about computers in general.
  • William was born with cataracts.  I honestly don't know all about what goes on with his eyes, but he is legally blind.  
  • He's worked for a non-profit for 15 years, as a Communications Manager.  He's also a free-lance writer for the Downeast Coastal Press newspaper.*
  • He has a dog named Angel that was dumped out at our neighbor's driveway on Christmas eve one year.  She lives with my grandfather, but it's clear she's my brother's dog.  Also, her first meal was corn flakes and milk- the neighbor brought her down to my grandfather on our recommendation.  Gramp kept her but didn't have any food for her first night.
  • If memory serves me correctly, he used to have a "pet" goose.
  • He also used to have doves.  My middle brother got cranky one time about having to feed them, so he let them out of their cage.  And then told William that they could "get them back easily with a shotgun."  This is one of my Dad's favorite stories.
  • I still roll his change for him when I go home.  I'm pretty sure he saves it for me.  Even if it's two years between visits.
  • After my middle brother moved out, my Mom, William, and I would take turns doing the dishes.  I conned him into doing them way more than every third night.
  • He wrote a book a hundred+ pages long when he was in like 8th grade.  He still has it.  I've never read it.
*To end things, here is a copy of his last article with The Downeast Coastal Press.  This is posted with consent, of course.

A Tribute to “G”


Seven years ago when I started writing for The Downeast Coastal Press, I made myself two promises. One, that no matter what else I wrote, no matter how many meetings, events, and stories I’d cover, my career as a writer would not be complete until this column was written. And the other, that I would only write this column when the time was right.

Thirteen years ago, my paternal grandmother, Betty Tuell, passed away at the age of 67 with terminal brain cancer. While my parents worked, “G” took care of my brother Joe, sister Dorrie, and I. She took us on walks, taught us the value of hard work, refereed fights, and always knew what to say (and when to say it), whether we wanted to hear it. And when talking wouldn't work, “the switch” sure did.

G was an amazing lady. You knew where you stood with her. If you did right, you were praised and encouraged. If you didn't, you got one of her little sayings. If you tried to do too much, she’d hit you with “you can’t farm, fish, and go to sea.” If you were in a hurry, she’d say, “Take your coat off and stay a while.” And three plates of sliced steak strips, a handful of homemade chocolate chip cookies, a mincemeat or rhubarb pie later, you could go on your way, but only after you reported in about your day at work or school. And then, only after you’d caught up on her soap operas.

As kids, she would read us stories, listen to my outlandish stories, help with homework, or gently ride me for not doing my share. Come the fifth, sixth, seventh grades, she would “encourage” me to help Father with his firewood business, and make sure there was something hot to eat and cool to drink when we stopped by after hauling a load wherever.

In the fall and early winter, she oversaw the family wreathing operation. She, my aunts Brenda [Wood] and Julie [Tuell] and we kids were trooped out into the woods to tip brush. Many days were cold, snowy and long. One day we kids decided it would be fun to take the family dog along. He broke into our knapsack and ate all the hot dogs, rolls, sandwiches and snacks, leaving two bananas and a chocolate pudding for five hungry people. G apportioned the food out – going without herself, I may add – and got us back tipping as if nothing happened. For some reason, while we were all cold, hungry and tired, we found a way to laugh about “Teddy’s Lunch” all afternoon.

Anyhow, at the end of a long day, my grandfather and father would haul the sticks of brush out with a tractor, and the family would gather in my grandparents’ garage every night to make wreaths with the day’s haul. Because I never really mastered wreathing, G paid me five cents a wreath for every wreath the family made, provided I tipped all day and didn't “loaf”. That worked out to a couple three hundred bucks a year at the time. But for a kid, that was big money, and you learned to value what you had because you earned it, and because the family had quality time together to tell stories, laugh, talk about things going on in town.

In the years since G’s passing my life has changed dramatically. I was a lot shier back then. I was just starting out at Sunrise County Economic Council, and I never dreamed of being a writer for this paper, running for town selectman, let alone the Legislature. But as much as things have changed, not a day goes by I don’t think of G, something she said, thought, or did. Not one day. Doesn't mean I haven’t gotten past her death – gutting it through this story ought to be proof of that – but I do often find myself wondering what she would say if she would think if she were still with us.

What would she think about 9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “Great Recession”, the road our country, state and area has gone down? Would she recognize East Machias today? Would she be aghast at some of the sheer silliness and foppery that constitutes modern sensibility? And then there are the more personal questions – What would G think of me becoming a writer, a selectman, a candidate for Legislature? What would she think of her great-granddaughter, Hailey Quinn, the Princess of Marshfield? Would G get into Bubble Guppies, Minnie Mouse Clubhouse, and the other toddler-fare that so dominates my niece’s life today? And really, what would she say if she could read this little exposition, a story I only broke down and wrote now before The Downeast Coastal Press becomes a fond memory itself?

I will leave these answers to those who knew G, or to God, who knows everybody inside and out. But before I close, I do want to go on record, in black and white, as officially thanking G for the glorious, fun, insightful, and supremely impactful, life that she led.

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