The Maine Historical Society held its largest and most profitable Maine History Maker Award celebration to date as the nonprofit honored Severin Beliveau, 84, and Harold Pachios, 85, co-founders of the law firm Preti Flaherty on May 6 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford. Entrance.
“Our work focuses on the profound ways in which history shapes Maine today,” said executive director Steve Bromage, presenting a program that highlighted the immigration stories of the families of the two honorees and collected $100,000 for the non-profit association. “Thanks to the competitive nature of Severin and Harold, we broke our fundraising record. We have over 100 corporate and host committee sponsors.
The Maine Historical Society was formed just two years after the statehood of Maine and is celebrating 200 years while looking forward to a third century. “Our Maine History Maker Award celebrates people who have had a real influence on the state and recognizes contemporary history in the making,” said Deputy Director Jamie Rice.
The three-hour fundraiser included French-American entertainment by Ensemble Don Roy and a panel discussion with Cambodian, Congolese and Burundian representatives from the New Mainer communities. Attendees included more than a few lawyers and judges, as well as Governor Janet Mills and former politicians from both sides of the aisle.
“I think we can convene the Legislative Assembly here, almost,” joked Meredith Strang Burgess, a trustee of the Maine Historical Society who served three terms as a state representative.
Recipients Beliveau and Pachios grew up in French and Greek families in Maine at a time when discrimination against immigrants, Catholics and other ethnic groups was rampant. Pachios spoke about the importance for historical societies today to tell these stories so that people understand that new waves of immigrants are no different.
“My own family was not welcome,” said Pachios, whose parents were Greek immigrants. “A hundred years later, no one is asking us to leave.”
After growing up in Cape Elizabeth, Pachios served two years in the United States Navy while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC, at night. After graduating, he served as associate White House press secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson and later joined Senator Edmund Muskie’s vice presidential campaign in 1968 as director of forward operations. Pachios returned to Maine in 1969, where his many civic roles have included chairman of the University of Southern Maine Law School Board, chairman of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and chairman of the School Board of Cape Elizabeth. These days, Pachios sits on the board of the First Amendment Museum in Augusta and hosts the local television show “Pachios on the News,” discussing government news with guests from across the political landscape.
“Harold has been a tremendous resource for the First Amendment Museum,” said Christan Cotz, the museum’s executive director. “He is a strategic thinker, and his experience and advice are invaluable.”
Continuing to work from their offices adjacent to Preti Flaherty, which now has 100 lawyers and five regional offices, Beliveau and Pachios spent countless hours swapping stories — and laughing. (Beliveau’s reaction to receiving the Maine History Maker Award was to joke with a wink, “Long overdue.”)
“I think stories are really important,” Beliveau said, launching into several humorous tales of growing up in Rumford in an Acadian family of pioneering lawyers and judges. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, Beliveau served in the Maine House of Representatives and later the Maine Senate and played an important role in the rise of the Maine Democratic Party after a century of Republican rule. He was also a champion of Maine’s Francoist heritage, serving as Honorary French Consular Agent for Maine and teaching Franco-American Studies at the University of Southern Maine.
“Severin has done so much for the French community in Maine,” said Jacques Santucci of Portland. “He’s an icon.”
“And he knows the art of politics and how to compromise,” said longtime friend Paul Cote of Portland.
“These men are part of the fabric of the community and have contributed immensely to it,” said Ned Muskie, son of former Senator Edmund Muskie.
Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]