Frank W. Handlen 1916-2023

On this the fourth Thursday of May, I am acutely aware that my dear friend, Frank W. Handlen has been gone a whole year. Frank was a gifted marine artist, a shipbuilder, and a sculptor in heroic scale. His Kennebunkport legacy is all around us. You might remember when he launched his handmade ferro cement 40-foot topsail schooner, Salt Wind in May of 1975. Perhaps you were there in 1995 when he unveiled his heroic size statue, Our Forebears of the Coast, on the Village Green to honor our Kennebunkport fishermen and their families.

The fact that this season we will celebrate the 1970s at the Kennebunkport Historical Society makes this 1975 home movie of the launch doubly fitting. Maybe you can get some inspiration for what to wear to the lawn party at the Nott House this summer from the launch spectators’ groovy outfits. Who do you recognize? The launch footage narrated by Frank Handlen, himself, is followed here by Frank pointing out some details on the bronze statue that he and Jack Langford installed on the Village Green.

During the pandemic in 2020, our lovely neighbors wanted to celebrate Frank’s 103rd birthday but didn’t want to expose him to COVID 19. They masked up, cut a birthday cake outside on his patio, and sang Happy Birthday Dear Frank. They whistled and cheered while Richard Woodman passed up and down the Kennebunk River in his schooner Eleanor blowing a celebratory birthday horn. I couldn’t resist sharing the moment I captured from the other side of the sliding glass door with Frank. It meant so much to him. He loved his Kennebunkport friends.

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