Portland, ME – On March 30, 2018, we lost a good man. John Corsa – having fought the good fight, primarily against Lymphoma – died at Saint Joseph’s, Portland, where he’d received kind attention and highly compassionate care. Carol was with him.
Born to Army General Lawrence Corsa and Sophia Marie Corsa in New York City, 1928, John was one of 6 siblings – two of whom survive him: brother Lawrence Corsa of Colorado, and “still sharp-as-a tack in her 90’s”, sister Charlotte Danielewski, New York.
John was an unusually intelligent, capable and kind man who led a full, interesting life. Volunteering, he served honorably in the U.S. Coast Guard, South Pacific Region, W.W. II. He credited New York University for an education that served him well.
John was with N.B.C. Television, Rockefeller Center, New York City, where for years, part of his job involved greeting and helping to comfortably “settle in” near-famous and really famous celebrities (like Elizabeth Taylor) while they waited to appear (live) on The Milton Berle Show. (Mr. Berle being “Mr. Television” himself in those heady days.)
John went on to become President of A.T.C.O. – an American manufacturing company which produced metal and steel fabrications, the United States Government being a customer. His position involved frequent travel, and John eventually spent a whole year in Europe working with the Military, probably regarding plane-part specifications. He developed a love for flying and subsequently got his own pilot’s license. He also managed to spend some time, quite happily, on his sailboat moored at San Francisco Bay. He was always a great host, and many, many, found their way aboard (for John was lots of fun as well).
In early middle age, John got interested in Chamber-of-Commerce work and was appointed Executive Director of the Kennebec Valley Chamber based in Augusta, Maine, where he had a good run. Probably the most significant accomplishment for John, his staff and the entire K.V.C.C. Membership was their conception and production of The Great Kennebec River Whatever Race celebrating the 4th of July and the river itself.
From its start, more and more outrageously out-fitted “crews” in equally outrageous (many laugh-out-loud-funny) rafts paddled down the Kennebec, delighting the ever growing crowds of celebrants on shore. The whole thing grew like Topsy to a packed, 3-to-4 day annual valley event.
An amused United States Senator – the Honorable George J. Mitchell – hopped on a boat one year, going right down the river with the rafters to Gardiner Landing. For one or two years, a “Battleship” raft especially stood out, it’s loud cannon shooting “whatevers” for 25 feet or so at fellow rafters! CVS Television News came up one late afternoon, filming the big, always good natured, but somewhat raucous show on the river (and the food, games and ferris-wheel happenings on shore).
Most important of all, to John, however, was that 4th afternoon when Stanley Hawes, an Augusta-area custodian with 6 children, shook his hand and said, “John, this has become the people’s race. Now everybody has a really great place to be for the the 4th, and you don’t have to go far or spend much of anything. This is going to go on for years (It did.) and my kids and I will always remember it.” (As so would we all).
Along with Carol, John spent his later years in Portland, Maine, where he handled scale-house operations for Merrill’s Marine Terminal and continued to do so when the Sprague organization took over. In a recent letter from Sprague to Carol, Lauren Bassill, manager of human resources for Sprague, added her own personal note: “He (John) was a dear man.”
And indeed John was dear– to all of us (family and well beyond) for whom he provided his on-going kindness, generosity, and support, especially for anyone going through a tough time.
John himself wanted to remember here with love: son Mark A. Corsa; life partner of 35 years Carol J. Wanbaugh; stepsons Jeff and Mark Gosline and stepdaughter Lee Gosline Demers (sadly, deceased); predeceased brother Preston Corsa, and also predeceased, sisters Virginia and Catherine; the families, nieces and nephews (especially Eric) of all his siblings; and stepdaughter Susan Jean Wanbaugh (sadly deceased.)
John also wanted to mention and thank that dear, wonderful couple who made our old-age so much happier and brighter: Steve and Bunny Rice of Portland, Maine, and our pal, Virgil “I-can-help-you-with-that” Plaisted of Gorham, Maine.
John’s ashes, along with Susan’s (and eventually, Carol’s) will be buried together at sea – back to the ocean loved by all three.
Folks wishing to make a donation in John’s memory do please contact the A.S.P.C.A. (1-800-628-0028) for he was fond of God’s critters!