James ‘Jim’ Michael Acheson – The Lincoln County News
James “Jim” Michael Acheson, 84, of Portland, died suddenly at Maine Medical Center on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 with his 50-year-old wife, Ann, and several other family members by his side. He was a longtime resident of Bangor, Maine until recently.
Jim was born May 2, 1938 in Dover, NH, the son of the late James M. and the late Mary (Petrov) Acheson. When he was 3 months old, the family moved to Maine, eventually settling in Augusta where Jim and his four brothers grew up. His father was in the hotel business and became the owner of eight hotels in Maine and New Hampshire, including the Augusta House. Jim lived and worked in many of these hotels during the first 22 years of his life, instilling in him a strong work ethic.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Colby College in 1962, majoring in biology and sociology, and his doctorate. in anthropology from the University of Rochester in 1970. During this time he also served in the Coast Guard Reserve (1960-1965).
Jim was a faculty member at the University of Maine from 1968 to 2013, with a cross appointment in Anthropology and the School of Marine Science. He was director of the anthropology department and coordinator of the marine policy program. He also had visiting appointments at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Washington, DC and several other academic institutions. His colleagues described him as an accomplished teacher for his rigorous teaching. While expecting much from his students, he treated them with care and consideration, no matter where they came from.
Early in his career, Jim worked on the ground in Mexico with a focus on economic development, but is best known for his work with Maine’s lobster industry and its system of self-governance. His research on the lobster industry has had important practical and theoretical impacts. He was integral to the establishment of a co-management system in Maine between government and the fishing industry that has become a national and international model. Jim was a leading scholar of international renown, whose work transcended disciplinary boundaries, including anthropology, economics, biology, public policy and natural resource management. He has received three grants from the National Science Foundation and is the author of more than 90 articles in professional journals, as well as five books, including “The Lobster Gangs of Maine” (1988) and “Capturing the Commons: Designing Institutions to Manage Maine’s Lobster Industry” (2004). At the University of Maine, he received the Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award (2005) and was named Distinguished Maine Professor (2009). In 2004, he received the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association, an honor given biennially for outstanding achievements contributing to the development of anthropology as an applied science and which have had significant impacts on public policy. .
Jim enjoyed being at the family camp in Pemaquid, where a favorite pastime was wielding his chainsaw to keep the woods at bay, then enlisting his (sometimes reluctant) brood to drag brush into piles for a huge bonfire. He loved large gatherings at camp and never seemed to care how many people piled in – as long as he had a bed. Jim was a wonderful storyteller and could create wonderful tales on the spot.
In his later years, Jim faced Parkinson’s disease with strength and resilience. It would have been easy for him to give up on this diagnosis, but he continued to exercise daily. Always a lifelong learner, he played computer chess daily and continued his voracious reading, especially history.
Jim is survived by his wife Ann (Welsh) Acheson; his children, Helen Acheson and her partner, John Bellerose, Julianna Acheson, James Acheson Jr., Marion Acheson-Silver and her husband, Richard Silver, Liz Heasly and her husband, Gabe, Katherine Kerkam and her husband, Ted, and Daniel Acheson and his wife, Katherine Cronin; grandchildren, Jordan Rich and his wife, Meagan, Emily Rich, Hannah, Mary and Sarah Acheson-Field, James MS Acheson, Julianna Acheson, Elizabeth Arris Yancelson and his husband, Daniel, John Arris and his wife, Mia, Joseph and Dominic Arris, Eleanor (Nora) and Sebastian Heasly, Clara and Hazel Kerkam, and Basil and Annie Acheson; great-grandchildren, Thomas Mani Yancelson and Alex Arris; brothers, Robert Acheson, William Acheson and his wife, Peg; nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews. He was previously married to Carolyn (Mendros) Bellerose. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Joan Bridge; brothers, Thomas and Richard Acheson; and grandson, Christopher Rich.
The family would like to thank their caregivers Farah Paradise and Tracy Young of Comfort Keepers for the wonderful support they have given.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Jim’s memory to School of Marine Science, University of Maine, 5706 Aubert Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5706; check payable to University of Maine, with School of Marine Sciences in the memo.
Visiting hours are 4-7 p.m. Thursday, July 7 with a celebration of life at 11 a.m. Friday, July 8, at Jones, Rich and Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodfords St., Portland. Masks will be mandatory. Interment will be on Saturday July 9 at 11 a.m. at Harrington Cemetery in Bristol. You can offer your condolences or share your memories at jonesrichandbarnes.com.