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Alfred Layton

Date of Death: March 17, 2017

Date of Birth: June 17, 1926


BRUNSWICK - Alfred Wolcott Gibbs Layton of Brunswick, Maine died March 17, 2017 at age 90. He was born in 1926 in Philadelphia to Landreth Lee Layton Jr., a wholesale grocer, and Marianne Skelton Gibbs Layton, whose father was chief mechanical engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad. A young Alfred took the train unattended from Delaware to Maine, where he enjoyed summer at camp near Boothbay. He spent his adult life working his way back to tidewater Maine.

In the 1940s he briefly attended Texas Christian University; then worked in the California borax mines before joining the Navy and participating in the liberation of the Philippines. Later he studied at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and flew as a bush pilot, delivering mail and supplies to towns and camps. In 1950 he returned to California and tried to reenlist. Finding the Navy office closed, he walked a couple of blocks to the next recruiting office and joined the Marines. He served in Korea and was honorably discharged in 1954. In 1956 he received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware.

He married Linnea Farquhar, with whom he had two daughters. The family moved to Boxborough, Massachusetts in 1964.

In 1965 he joined the Appalachian Mountain Club and became an avid whitewater canoeist, learning from experienced paddlers and later providing instruction on trips. He qualified for Class IV rapids and during spring snow melts and dam releases ran New England rivers, including the Ammonoosuc, Upper Saco, Swift, Dead, Penobscot West Branch, Rapid, and Saint John. On early trips he became an expert at winching canoes off mid-river rocks and riveting metal patches onto bunged up aluminum canoes. In 1968 Al and several AMC members learned that the Tarbox family was willing to sell Beal Island to the Club. They formed a committee and met with the owners, abutters, and town meeting attendees, and explained that the Club intended to conserve the island in its natural state, making minimal changes. After the purchase in 1969, Al led many trips to the AMC's Beal Island camp near Bath, Maine, where tides provided opportunities to practice whitewater maneuvers and when timed right propelled paddlers back to camp after a day's exploration. He showed campers, including his daughters, how to overcome fear of the dark by turning off flashlights, looking up at the stars in the night sky, and then waiting for eyes to adjust before walking the path back to camp.

He worked as a surveyor on the Benbrook Dam in Texas, and as a civil engineer on projects including the Aqueduct Racetrack on Long Island, Fafnir factory in Connecticut, Christian Science Center in Boston and national electricity project in Zaire. After returning from Africa he worked in New Jersey where he met Carol Lehman Tralongo, whom he married in October 1988. In the 1990s he and Carol moved to Swan's Island, Maine where he had built a passive solar house with the help of islanders, boat builders, and the Shelter Institute. After Al retired, he and Carol traversed the US and Mexico with two golden retrievers in an RV, making stops to work on Habitat for Humanity projects. They moved to Brunswick in 2006.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; daughters Liz Layton and Ginny Layton-Leal (José); stepdaughters, Diane Kim (Brian) and Julie Lally (Jim); grandchildren, Hans Leal (April), Connie Leal DaSilva, Katie and Mitchell Kim, and Maggie and Emily Lally; great-grandaughter, Naiomi Leal DaSilva; sister, Penelope; nephew, Bill Fox (Eleanor); nieces, Marianne Brinker, Madelyn Sturgeon (Steven) and Ellen Brinker; grand-nephew, David Sturgeon (Amanda); and grand-nieces, Elizabeth and Christina Sturgeon. He was predeceased by his former wife Linnea, niece, Margaret Blair, and sister, Marianne.

Al developed vascular dementia and moved to Horizons Living and Rehab in 2016. The family thanks all the Horizons staff for their considerate care.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, 659 Warren Avenue, Portland, ME 04103.

Committal will be at St Paul Episcopal Church Memorial Garden in Brunswick at 10am June 17, 2017 followed by a reception in the Great Hall.

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