Bruce A. Coggeshall died on September 14, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 57 years, Phyllis Conroy Coggeshall. Bruce always claimed that he had had his eye on Phyllis from the time they were in first grade together. Phyllis thinks it was a little later, but in any event, it was a long and successful romance.
Bruce led an active life. He was an avid skier, for many years owning a family ski house at Sugarloaf Mountain where he spent almost every winter weekend. When he was skiing, winters were never too long or with too much snow. He was also a golfer and a boater, spending many summer days on Casco Bay with family and friends on his boat the Emalty.
He was a lawyer by profession and a respected member of the Maine legal community. He was known for his sense of humor, which never deserted him up to the day he died.
Bruce was born on September 24,1941, in Brattleboro Vermont, the second of five children and grew up in the small town of Newport, New Hampshire in a spirited family where everyone was challenged to do his or her best. His mother, Katharine Coggeshall, was a schoolteacher and she brought her schoolmarm discipline to the family.
Bruce graduated in 1959 from Towle High School in Newport where he was a star athlete and outstanding student. He was captain of the track, cross-country, and ski teams, president of the student council, and editor of the senior yearbook. He was a long distance runner and for a long time he held the record on the local cross-country course.
He worked at numerous jobs while in high school, including delivering newspapers in the mornings before school, selling men’s clothing in a local men’s store, and cooking and filling donuts in a local bakery. Between his junior and senior years he was one of 100 top public high school students selected to attend the first Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School in Concord, which was a six week program of intensive study in subjects not usually available at New Hampshire public high schools
Upon graduation from high school, he was fortunate to have a choice of several top colleges and chose Dartmouth College in Hanover where he was fortunate to be awarded an almost full scholarship for four years. He loved Dartmouth, where he made many lifelong friends. He was elected president of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. He graduated in 1963 with a degree in economics and remained a loyal, devoted, and passionate alumnus for his entire life.
Immediately following graduation from Dartmouth, Bruce married his high school sweetheart and classmate, Phyllis Conroy, who had just graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston. Phyllis earned a pharmacy license in New York and Bruce had been awarded a fellowship to attend graduate school at Cornell. They spent the next four years in Ithaca, New York where Phyllis practiced her profession and Bruce attended the graduate school of business and the law school, graduating with honors at the top of his law school class in 1967.
With many options open to them after graduating from Cornell, Bruce and Phyllis decided to return to New England and Bruce took a job with what then was a small Portland, Maine law firm which eventually became the major regional law firm Pierce Atwood.
Bruce was one of Maine’s leading corporate and commercial lawyers and was a pioneer in Maine in the practice of tax exempt and municipal financing. He had many notable corporate clients throughout the State and for many years he served as bond counsel for Portland, South Portland, and Cape Elizabeth as well as numerous other municipalities and districts.
He was active in economic development in the state, serving on a number of boards and commissions focused on improving the economy of the state. He was one of the founding directors of the Maine Small Enterprise Growth Fund (now the Maine Venture Fund) and wrote the original legislation for that organization. He was recognized by the Finance Authority of Maine with a Dirigo Award for “his tremendous efforts and leadership in helping Maine businesses to access the financing necessary to start up, expand and compete more effectively and for helping to enhance employment opportunities and improve the economic wellbeing of Maine people.”
Bruce and Phyllis settled in Cape Elizabeth where they raised their family and where both were active in town affairs; Phyllis as a long-time member of the town council and Bruce as a member of numerous town committees. After more than 45 years in Cape Elizabeth, they down-sized and built a smaller house in Falmouth and became Florida residents, enjoying the warm weather, golf and a house on the water in Bradenton. They had two sons, Bruce, Jr. and Jack, who were adored by Bruce and five beautiful granddaughters who were the love of his life.
Bruce and Phyllis loved to travel and traveled all over the world from Africa, to Antarctica, to Nepal and many places in between. In spite of their busy schedules they found time to visit all seven continents and 50 or so different countries. One of their favorite trips was a trip to Spain with their three oldest granddaughters.
He loved the practice of law, his law firm and all the people associated with it.
Bruce was a partner at Pierce Atwood for some 45 years, serving for many years as the head of the firm’s corporate department and 12 years as its managing partner. When he stepped down from his role as managing partner, his partners and colleagues recognized him for his leadership of the firm “with a strong vision, a steady hand and a strong heart.”
Bruce was a Uniform Laws Commissioner for the State of Maine, having first been appointed to that position by Governor McKernan and again by the next three governors. In that role, he was a life member of the Uniform Laws Conference in Chicago where he made great friendships with lawyers and judges throughout the country. He was also a life member of the Maine Bar Association and the American Law Institute.
Bruce is survived by his wife Phyllis of Falmouth, Maine and Bradenton, Florida, his son Bruce Jr. of Natick, Massachusetts and his wife Stacy, his son Jack of South Portland and his wife Lisa and her children Molly and Chris, his granddaughters Tyler, Alexandra, Emery, Piper and Camden, his brother Christopher of Falmouth, his sister Billie Bliss of Andover, his brother Bob of Youngstown Ohio, and sister Ann Wallace of South Sutton.
Gifts can be made to Dartmouth College in lieu of flowers to the Bruce Amsden Coggeshall 1963 Memorial Fund. The College is working with the family on the purpose of the fund. Please send donations to Dartmouth College, Gift Recording Office, 6066 Development Office, Hanover NH 03755 or call 646-0098 for credit card gifts. Please note on the check that the gift is for the Coggeshall Memorial Fund.
A celebration of Bruce’s life will be held at a later date.