Fred Chase started building houses when he was 15 years old. By age 20, he was operating his own business, Fred W. Chase Builders. Over the years, Chase built dozens of homes throughout southern Maine and developed several subdivisions in Falmouth.
Chase, an accomplished builder and real estate developer who devoted his life to serving the town of Falmouth, died Aug. 3 after a fight with cancer. He was 81.
Chase built houses throughout Cumberland County, then shifted his focus to real estate development in the 1980s. He oversaw the development of subdivisions at Westwood-Susan Lane, Brookfield-Kimberly Lane, Brookside Forest, and White Oaks-InnKeeper’s Lane in Falmouth.
His daughter, Susan Chase of Falmouth, said he was positive, driven and always had a smile on his face. She said he worked hard his whole life and last year developed a couple of house lots in Falmouth.
“He was happiest when he had a project going,” his daughter said Friday. “He always had something in the works. He loved building something that would make someone happy. It’s what he knew.”
Chase left his mark in Falmouth through service to the community. He was a town councilor from 1970 to 1973 and 2009 to 2012. He served on several boards and committees, including the building committees for renovation projects for Town Hall, Fire Station 4, Lunt School, and the new Falmouth High School.
According to his obituary published in Sunday’s newspaper, Chase promoted the adoption of Maine’s Mandatory Shoreline Zoning Act and Wetlands Protection Ordinances. He also volunteered for community projects including the development of the community park and River Point Conservation Area Trails. He was recognized as Falmouth Citizen of the Year in 2000.
Nathan Poore, Falmouth’s town manager, said he was an advocate for conservation issues and beloved in the community.
“He was a pillar in the community,” Poore said in a phone interview Friday. “It didn’t matter if you had a different opinion or position. … He still liked you and everyone liked him. He had a sense of humor that was 10 times the size of him. He’s really going to be missed, especially at Town Hall. All the employees really enjoyed him.”
Chase was remembered last week as a devoted family man who lived life to its fullest.
He was married to Diana Chase for 62 years. The couple lived in Falmouth, where they raised four children. His daughter said they had their first date in second grade. They dated at Falmouth High School and graduated together in 1955. She said her parents shared a beautiful life together.
“They respected each other,” she said. “They both had a tremendous sense of humor. He laughed easily. We all kidded around and had fun. They provided the opportunity to make really great memories.”
Susan Chase reflected on her relationship with her father Friday, saying he was patient and supportive.
“He always told me I could do anything I wanted to do,” she said. “He was so supportive. He was one of those people … you knew you wouldn’t be judged. You knew he was always going to be there for you. I never hesitated to ask him for help when I needed it. He let me make my mistakes. He gave us that room to make our own mistakes. He was the best father.”
Chase was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. His daughter said he received treatment and seemed to be healthy. But he began complaining of pain in early July after his grandson’s wedding. She said the cancer returned and spread through his bones.
“He danced at my son’s wedding,” his daughter said. “It’s like he had lived for that moment. He wanted to be happy for Chase’s wedding. It’s hard to imagine that four weeks later he’s not with us. … I’ll miss his laugh. I’ll miss his smile. My husband and I used to play cards with them. He and my mom always beat us.”