Neil Rolde, who was the President of Maine Partners of the Americas for many years, recently passed away. Many tributes have been paid to him by civic, business, political leaders and by individuals and organizations familiar with his extensive civic engagement; as well as his thoughtful and informed guidance, his concern for human needs and his charitable giving for causes that enrich our lives. Upon learning of Neil’s passing, Alan Rubin, the first President of the Maine Chapter of the Partners of the Americas (POA), said succinctly, “Neil was a very fine guy.”
Typical of Neil’s engagement with civic organizations was the role he played in the formation and development of the Maine/Rio Grande do Norte partnership. When President John F. Kennedy offered Maine the opportunity to partner with a state in Brazil to help the US improve its relations with Latin America, Governor Ken Curtis accepted. He asked Neil Rolde, then aide to the Governor, to help. From then on, Neil was involved in our partnership’s development, its steady progress and, in its earlier years, a financial supporter. He was the longest serving president of the Maine Chapter of POA – 12 years.
The warm friendships, shared values, joint accomplishments and mutual respect our partnership enjoys today is, to an important extent, due to Neil’s early leadership. His love of the Brazilian people, interest in their history and culture, devotion to learning the Portuguese language and publishing his research for members use, surprised and impressed the Brazilians. It helped get the partnership off to a great start. Neil was a true internationalist and a consummate citizen diplomat.
After 15 years of involvement with the Maine Partners Neil wrote a book, Rio Grande do Norte, The Story of Maine’s Partner State in Brazil with a forward by Governor Kenneth M. Curtis and an Afterword by Alan Rubin. In that Afterward Alan expressed his gratitude to Neil for recording this significant example of the POA working well here in the hemisphere.
We have been fortunate to have the dedicated involvement in Maine Partners of the Americas and in the state of Maine in general. We hope you will enjoy this interview with Neil by Steve Simonds which was filmed in May 2015 as part of the Maine Chapter’s History project.