SIDNEY — It’s impossible to know how many lives Davis Wiggin influenced during his 40 years as director of New England Music Camp, but Fiona Bryan said Tuesday it was probably thousands.

Wiggin, who died Sunday in Bonita Springs, Fla., at 87, ran the camp on the shore of Messalonskee Lake from 1969 until his retirement two years ago.

“He was such an energetic and humorous man,” said Bryan, director of marketing and public relations for the camp. The camp hosts about 200 music students every summer. Bryan attended the camp as a child, then joined the staff nearly two years ago. She said she has fond memories of Davis Wiggin from her days as a music student.

“He changed the lives of so many young people. He was just incredible,” Bryan said.

Wiggin and his wife, Jeanette, took over the camp in 1969 when his father died. A third generation of the Wiggin family, son and daughter-in-law John and Kim Wiggin, took over when he retired in 2009.

Davis Wiggin wasn’t a musician, but his background in athletics was well suited to camp life, Kim Wiggin said Tuesday. He promoted teamwork, fairness and encouragement, she said.

“If you asked him what he would consider himself to be, he would have said he was a coach,” she said.

In February 2007, Wiggin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He maintained a positive attitude throughout his fight with the disease, his daughter-in-law said. The fight lasted nearly five years.

“He certainly defied the odds,” she said. “He decided very early on that it didn’t matter what the doctors were saying or what history tells us about this disease, he was going to continue living his life the way he wanted to.”

Kim Wiggin said her father-in-law’s death will not affect the camp’s plans for expansion. In October, John Wiggin announced a campaign to raise up to $10 million for a project that would transform the summer camp into a year-round performing arts center.

She said Davis Wiggin’s passing lends renewed purpose to the project.

“I think it just solidifies our purpose and determination to move forward,” she said. “It would certainly be a fitting tribute to him.”

In the meantime, she said the family and students of the camp take solace in knowing Davis Wiggin’s life was well lived.

Wiggin was born July 8, 1924, in Massachusetts. He attended the University of Maine, but interrupted his education to serve with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific theater of World War II.

After the war, Wiggin returned to Orono and earned a degree in education.

From there, he began a lifelong career in education, serving as athletic directors for Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and several school districts in Connecticut.

In 1969, the board of trustees for the New England Music Camp appointed Wiggin as its new director. While serving as director, Wiggin continued to maintain a home and his teaching career in Connecticut.

The camp originally took root in 1930 as the Eastern Music Camp, but foundered during the Great Depression.

In 1937 the camp was bought by Davis’ father, Paul E. Wiggin, and renamed New England Music Camp.

“He certainly had an amazing life,” Kim Wiggin said. “He faced the end of his life with tremendous dignity and determination. I don’t think anybody would say that he had any regrets. And, we certainly do not either.”

She added, “He has left us a wonderful legacy. And, we feel a tremendous responsibility to live up to that legacy.”

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