FARMINGTON — To some, Michael Francis “Mike” Monahan, who passed away March 26 at age 68, was known as a creator of signs. To others, he was father, teacher, student, friend.

Born in Rome, Italy, in 1949, Monahan moved to Kingfield in the 1970s. He worked at a summer adventure camp and later at the Ski Dorm.

Monahan partnered with Howard Smith to co-edit The Irregular, a weekly newspaper published in Kingfield. They drafted local dining guides to promote tourism.

In 1983, Monahan started selling hand-painted signs. He opened a sign shop in the old train station, calling it Kingfield Signs. In 1988, he partnered with Dave Burnell to start Signworks.

His son, Sam Monahan, said Mike moved to Farmington in 1997. He had a stroke two and a half years ago and began transitioning into retirement. In the past couple of months, he had a few mini-strokes.

“Going to the shop kept him busy, gave him something to do,” Sam Monahan said.

Paul Mills, vice president of the Farmington Downtown Association, first knew Mike Monahan when he lived in Kingfield.

“He was very buoyant, a ubiquitous figure seen in a lot of areas in the community,” Mills said.

He said Monahan helped organize discussion groups, among them a weekly meeting of professionals.

“Mike had broad interests,” Mills said. “He supported a lot of people. He was active right to the end. His sudden passing shocked a lot of people.”

Anna Lyon, Franklin Savings Bank marketing director, said Mike was her sign guy for 21 years. The bank has sponsored a number of signs created by Monahan throughout the community.

“Mike was an institution,” Lyon said. “His signs helped create Farmington’s physical character.”

Lyon said Monahan’s early invoices were in calligraphy. They had funny comments on them and were pieces of art in themselves.

Monahan was known for his calendars. They featured hand-drawn artwork. Tidbits about religion, philosophy and his family were also included.

“It was a kick to read them. They were one of my favorite things,” Lyon said.

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce President Mike Blanchet knew Monahan for 25 years.

“Mike always helped with the golf tournament, hand-designing signs for each hole sponsor. He worked with us when the chamber moved to Wal-Mart,” Blanchet said.

He remembered speaking to Monahan about a problem with the bulletin board near Hippach Field. Monahan fixed the problem at no charge.

“He was always really good about helping out. He always put a smile on your face,” Blanchet said.

Monahan worked with the town of Farmington to redesign the outfield signs for Hippach Field’s 100th anniversary and the historical walking tour.

“He maintained the historical integrity of the town, set the standard for new signs,” Blanchet said.

According to Monahan’s obituary, he struggled with alcoholism in his younger years. The recovering community became an important part of his life. His personal and spiritual musings acted as inspiration for those he helped sponsor through Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Mike came to the defense of people in different stages and walks of life,” Mills said.

Memorial visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Wiles Remembrance Center, 137 Farmington Falls Road, Farmington. A celebration of life will be held in the summer.

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