Hallowell resident Joel Davis, described as a “friend of the immigrant community” in central Maine, died unexpectedly on Aug. 20. He was 69.

Joel Davis  

Davis was known for his work with immigrant communities in central Maine.

Along with his wife, Sarah Shed, he was heavily involved in the Capital Area New Mainers Project. Shed co-founded the organization, according to executive director Chris Myers Asch, who said Davis’s death was a shock. He called him a “genuine, committed, friend of the immigrant community.”

Myers Asch said Davis was key in the larger effort of helping immigrants and refugees settle into central Maine. He said Davis would hire immigrants and refugees to work at his now-closed business, Central Maine Meats. In 2017, the Kennebec Journal reported that the company was beginning to sell halal meats to serve a growing Muslim population in central Maine.

Myers Asch said Davis was “an unofficial advisor and mentor to many immigrants in the area.”

“The two of them (Shed and Davis) were quite a team and they have definitely helped open opportunities for people in this area,” he said. “It’s exciting to think about what Augusta could look like in the future and Joel was a pioneer in that respect.”

Davis also had a passion for boating, which he showcased on his blog “Travels with SnowGoose.” The blog followed Davis and company’s journey on a loop from Fort Myers, Florida, up the central part of the U.S., around Michigan, across the Canadian border and back down to Fort Myers. His party stopped the loop short in Mobile, Alabama, because of the impending hurricane season, about 400 miles short of the end in Fort Myers. The trip started on March 18, 2015, and ended Oct. 11, 2016.

“We can’t travel further south until hurricane season officially ends,” Davis wrote. “We are ready to enjoy some New England autumn and be with family for Thanksgiving.

“We did all but the last 400 or so miles between Mobile and Fort Myers, and while it would have been nice to close the Loop, it’s okay not to,” he continued. “We are all so grateful to have been able to do this. Trip of a lifetime, no doubt about it!”

Hallowell City Clerk Diane Polky said Davis served two terms on the City Council, one as a councilor-at-large from 1982 to 1984, and the other representing Ward 4 from 1984 to 1986.  Most recently, Davis served on the Hallowell TIF Policy Committee. According to his obituary, he also served as the president of Temple Beth El in Augusta.

Frank O’Hara served on the TIF Policy Committee with Davis. He said Davis, a well-respected financial advisor, was a visionary for how Hallowell could be, and was “funny” and “very respectful.”

“He understood economics … and how you could get something done in a creative way,” O’Hara said. “He had a wry smile and sometimes a little twinkle in the eye. He was a joy to be with.”

Davis, along with Bill Lovely, who also owns a construction company, was behind Central Maine Meats, a slaughterhouse located in Gardiner.

The pair collaborated to bring meat processing services to livestock producers in Maine, with facilities on Brunswick Avenue and in the Libby Hill Business Park. The move was part of Gardiner’s plan to attract businesses to develop a food-based economy.

As the partners celebrated Central Maine Meats’ opening in 2015 and in the months after, they were able to secure $1.3 million in grants from the Community Development Block Grant program for both economic development and job creation.

But in 2018, after disputes over how the company was being run, Davis moved to take over the company and filed for bankruptcy protection. Davis filed suit against Lovely and his company. The suit and Lovely’s counterclaims are before the Business and Consumer Court in Portland.

 

Kennebec Journal writer Jessica Lowell also contributed to this report.

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