Obituary: Robert M. Chute | Lewiston Sun Journal

Robert M. Chute

POLAND – Robert M. Chute, 95, passed away on April 28, 2021 at his home on Middle Range Pond in Poland, Maine.

Born Feb. 13,1926 in Naples, Maine, Bob grew up on the Chute Homestead, his family’s popular summer resort on the shores of Long Lake. At the one-room primary Lord School in Naples, he discovered his three lifelong interests: poetry, biology, and Henry David Thoreau.

After graduating from Fryeburg Academy in 1944, he joined the Air Force’s Aviation Physiology Unit of Proving Ground Command, spending two years testing high altitude flight programs and survival equipment in Alaska, the Everglades, and the Gulf of Mexico.

After leaving the Air Force, he married his first love, Virginia “Vicki” Hinds, whom he had known since they were children. Bob studied at the University of Maine, earning his Doctor of Science from Johns Hopkins University in 1953, where he researched parasitology and Hibernation Physiology. Around this time, the young couple raised their two children, David and Dian.

Post-graduate appointments included professorships at Vermont’s Middlebury College, Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, and California’s San Fernando Valley State College.

Invited to join the faculty at Bates College, Bob happily returned to Maine in 1962, serving as Chairman of the Biology department. He began to write poetry. He and Vicki founded a mimeograph poetry magazine called The Small Pond, and were active in the anti-war movement, publishing the peace and nonviolence newsletter Plowshare. Bob brought his family to the March on Washington in 1963.

Bob ran for US Congress as an independent protest candidate in 1966 to bring awareness to what he believed were the most important issues of the time, the Vietnam War and civil rights. He was an avid supporter of Veterans for Peace.

Bob was also on the vanguard of environmental studies, publishing the textbooks Introduction to Biology and Environmental Insight.

His first book of poems, Uncle George, was about growing up in Naples under the guidance of his mother’s eccentric brother. Many more poetry collections followed, reflecting his interest in nature, history, and storytelling.

In the 70s, Bob founded the Lakes Environmental Association, which studies and protects the lakes of Maine, as well as the Congress of Lake Associations. As president of the Maine Biologists Association, he testified before the US Senate on the effects of marine pollution caused by the Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

In the 80s and 90s, Bob acted as director of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg, supervising the preservation and managed use of the land.

After Bob left active teaching at Bates in 1993, he remained as Professor Emeritus of Biology. After retirement, Bob focused on his poetry, collages, and researched the histories of Maine, his family, and Thoreau. He became particularly passionate about female Russian bomber pilots, the Nat Turner Rebellion, Jesuit scholar Sebastian Rale, and the Native American tribes of New England. His book about Rale, Thirteen Moons, has been translated into French and Passamaquoddy.

For many years, Bob and Vicki ran a used bookstore in the basement of their Poland Springs home on Upper Range Pond, and traveled the state for poetry readings and book sales. Bob won several awards, including a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance in 2011.

Besides his poetry, he also wrote the mystery novel Coming Home: A Maine Mystery.

Bob and Vicki lived in several homes in southern Maine until her death in 2013, after 67 years of marriage. They preferred to live by the water, in harmony with nature.

Bob is survived by his son David Chute, of Poland, Maine, daughter Dian Chute of Portland, Ore.; granddaughter Nora Chute of Los Angeles; as well as his nieces and nephews and their families.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife Virginia “Vicki” Hinds Chute; his parents James Cleveland Chute and Elizabeth Davis Chute; his sisters Mary Holmes and Jeanette Manning, and brother, Philip Conrad Chute.

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