It took Ed Doughty a while to learn that the
David Nyhan who enjoyed coffee and doughnuts at Doughty's Island Market
on Chebeague Island on summer mornings was a nationally known political
writer who was on familiar terms with senators and presidents.
"He would come in and chat and just be a regular guy," Doughty said
of Nyhan, who over the years became not just his customer but a close
friend. "He was one of those Chebeaguers that we welcome."
Donna Damon, an islander who represents Chebeague on the Cumberland
Town Council, said the man who readers of The Boston Globe knew as a
reporter and columnist, "Chebeaguers knew as our friend."
Nyhan, 64, died of an apparent heart attack on Sunday after
shoveling snow at his home in Brookline, Mass. He retired from the
Globe in 2001 after 32 years but continued to write for the
Eagle-Tribune Co. His words, known for their liberal stance, influenced
local, state and national politics. His eulogy on Friday will be
delivered by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Doughty said Nyhan didn't dwell on his career or politics during
his nearly two decades of summer sojourns on Chebeague, the Casco Bay
island that he came to love. "I think he used Chebeague to get away
from that," Doughty said.
Damon said a memorial service for Nyhan will be held on the island this spring, but no date has been set.
Although Nyhan was unassuming about his accomplishments, he stood
out on Chebeague. A gregarious man at 6 feet 4 inches tall, Nyhan was
"warm, generous, sincere, unpretentious, witty and loyal," Damon said.
She said the "towering Irishman with a twinkle in his eye" forged a
special bond with everyone in her family, from her elderly father to
her husband to her young son, and was "as comfortable talking with
fishermen as he was with U.S. senators."
"He was the real deal," Damon said.
Nyhan's brother, Christopher Nyhan, a Portland attorney, said that
in the early 1980s, he and his wife had a cottage on Chebeague that
David and his wife and children visited in the summer.
In the late 1980s, Christopher said, David and his wife bought
their own cottage. In the summer they became an integral part of life
on the island, which has a year-round population of about 350 and about
1,500 residents in the summer.
"One of his favorite things was taking the trash to the dump and
stopping at Doughty's market and picking up a bear claw and the (New
York) Times and the Globe, and he was as happy as a clam," Christopher
David Nyhan loved sailing and the time he spent at the Chebeague
Island Boat Yard with owners Hartley and Dianne Brewer. "He was always
tinkering with his boat and fixing something or other," Dianne Brewer
said. "I'm going to miss that 'Afternoon, Mrs. Brewer' and the tip of
Nyhan gave generously of himself, Damon said. He taught island
children to sail and was a friend to her father, who died three years
ago at age 91. For years he also was a best buddy and mentor to her
son, now 18.
Doughty said Nyhan was always bringing him collector's items he knew he'd enjoy, such as old Red Sox jerseys.
Damon said that one islander gave Nyhan a rare tribute by saying:
"If all summer people could be like David Nyhan, there would be no more
summer complaint jokes."
Staff Writer Tess Nacelewicz can be contacted at 791-6367 or at:
Barbara Hamilton of Chebeague Island, ME
Jan 28, 2005 8:02 PM
summer I had the opportunity to talk with David and his brother when
they came to the Chebeague Island Golf Club to golf for the day. They
were very outgoing and looked forward to their time together on the
golf course. He was a very nice and intelligent man. He surely will be
missed on the island!
tom calder of chebeague island, me
Jan 28, 2005 12:43 PM
didnt matter if you were a high roller or a street sweeper,david had
time for everyone,with a smile and a joke or two,ill miss him on the
Laurie Wood of No Yarmouth, ME
Jan 28, 2005 5:10 AM
became our neighbor on Carter's Point a few years before my father
died. The two hit it off immediately. There was certainly a physical
resemblance and they found pretty quickly that there was a political
and intellectual alliance as well. David began to spend summer evenings
on our front porch sharing stories and laughs with my father. They were
men of a perhaps bygone breed. As my father would say, "he was a
stand-up guy." We will miss him.
David Hill of Chebeague Island, ME
Jan 27, 2005 9:51 PM
wish I had known David better. I was certainly grateful when he towed
my sick golf cart home one day. What a loss for all who knew and loved