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Edward Francis Gorham

Date of Death: September 27, 2022

Date of Birth: March 8, 1944


Randolph- Edward Francis Gorham, 78, passed on at home holding hands with his family on September 27, 2022. 

Eddie was born in his beloved Portland on March 8, 1944, to Elizabeth Greene Gorham and Joseph Michael Gorham. He grew up running through the streets of Munjoy Hill and graduated from Cheverus high school in 1962. He earned a degree in history and government from the University of Maine at Portland in 1966 and then spent two years in the Peace Corps serving in the Punjab region of India where he was gifted a Punjabi kada bracelet from a local friend, a symbol of strength, that he wore all his life. In 1970 Eddie made his first dues payment to Local 29 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers and became a journeyman boilermaker for life. In 1976, he volunteered his services to then president of the Maine AFL-CIO, Ben Dorsky, who said "Sit down you punk. We're going to start your education." Ed would recount the most memorable lesson Ben Dorsky gave him was to "sit down and listen to people of differing opinions and not assume you were right." That advice served him through nearly 35 years of passionate service in the Maine labor movement where he learned the political and legislative process in Augusta. In 1977, he was elected the Secretary Treasurer of the Maine AFL-CIO and in 1999, he was elected President of the organization where he served with a great deal of humility and gratitude until his retirement in January 2010. He was forever dedicated to the Maine workers who he said "were the best workers" and thanked them for putting food on his table to help raise his family. Ed's advocacy for all working people and his solidarity with his union brothers and sisters was the driving force behind passage of laws benefiting Maine workers including but not limited to: first in the country chemical ID law, community right to know, minimum wage, severance pay, sexual harassment, toxic use reduction, VDT standards, workers compensation, unemployment, training benefits and more.

He was a longtime chairman of the Maine Labor Group on Health, he was one of many  involved in its founding. He served on the board of the Susan Curtis Foundation and served nearly 20 years as a trustee on the Maine Community College System Board. Pre and post retirement Ed served over two terms on the Randolph selectboard winning his first race by one vote, proving that every vote matters!

We, his family, think he was extraordinary. Ed would think he was the same as everyone else, just loving his family, working for a living and treating people with respect, dignity and kindness. He knew and cared for so many people. One of his good friends said upon meeting him for the first time, Ed was asked what it was he did for work and Ed responded "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," a partial quote of Finley Peter Dunne's Irish newspaper character, "Mr. Dooley", published in 1902. Ed was a master at knowing arcane anecdotes and history, using it to great effect in all the speeches he gave during his career with nary a text. He was a natural public speaker who commanded a microphone for audiences of any size and was given a bullhorn during his retirement party. A fitting gift for the man who taught his children at a young age to grab an open mic and lead a "Scabs Out, Union in!" chant wherever there was a crowd. They grew up thinking their dad knew the answer to every clue as they watched Jeopardy together and he was a proud champion winner of the game show "So you think you know Maine." He answered any question his kids posed and taught them the importance of referencing encyclopedias, maps, dictionaries and reading user manuals to explore their curiosities.

Ed was a family man and loved them more than anything as they deeply love him. His wife of 42 years, Diana, and youngest son James, selflessly dedicated themselves to making Ed's life as comfortable as possible as his caregivers through ten years of Parkinson's disease that he approached with stoicism and a frequent refrain he was known for during times of hardship "we'll get through this." Ed had a wonderful family life that he and Diana created for their children and grandchildren. His granddaughters Mathilde and Alena adored their Grampy and loved sitting with him, brushing his hair and talking with him. His newborn grandson Francis was named in his honor and arrived early just in time to meet his namesake and get kisses on his forehead. Ed could calm any baby he met and never saw a dog that didn't wag its tail for his attention.

Ed was predeceased by his parents Betty and Joseph Gorham and his mother-in-law Katharine Henton; his older sister Ann Mussenden; younger brothers Mike and Will Gorham; brothers-in-law Paul Voigt and Robert MacKinnon; nephew Marty Gorham and great-nephew Stephen Foster. 

Eddie is survived by his heartbroken wife Diana who he married under his mother-in-law's apple tree 42 years ago; son Matthew and wife Elisa, their daughters Mathilde and Alena; daughter Delia and her husband Pete and their son Francis; son James; sisters-in-law Deborah Voigt and her children Elise and Ethan Voigt; Darlene MacKinnon; Dorothy Curtis and her children Andrew and Amanda Curtis. Brothers-in-law Donald Henton and his wife Trina; Paul and Daniel Henton. Nieces Shannon Gorham and Erin Mussenden; nephews John, Joey and Patrick Gorham and Bill Mussenden; and all of his grand nieces and nephews.

The family has opted not to host a funeral and wishes to thank everyone who attended Eddie's retirement party where he was beautifully honored by the Maine workers whose lives he touched and where he was able to celebrate a life well lived with the people who loved him most. In lieu of a funeral the family is inviting anyone who crossed paths with Eddie to please share their remembrances of him by visiting and submitting a story of your time with him, a quote that he shared with you or a picture of your time together.

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