Maine Historical Society had its largest and most profitable Maine History Maker Award celebration to date as the nonprofit honored Severin Beliveau, 84, and Harold Pachios, 85, co-founders of the law firm Preti Flaherty, May 6 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall.

“Our work focuses on the profound ways that history shapes Maine today,” said Executive Director Steve Bromage, introducing a program that highlighted the immigration stories of both honorees’ families and raised $100,000 for the nonprofit. “Thanks to Severin’s and Harold’s competitive natures, we have broken our fundraising record. We have over 100 corporate and host committee sponsors.”

Maine Historical Society was established just two years after Maine statehood and is celebrating 200 years while looking ahead to a third century. “Our Maine History Maker award celebrates people who have had a real influence on the state and recognizes contemporary history in the making,” said Deputy Director Jamie Rice.

The three-hour fundraiser included Franco-Americaine entertainment by the Don Roy Ensemble and a panel discussion with Cambodian, Congolese and Burundian representatives of New Mainer communities. Attendees included more than a few lawyers and judges, as well as Gov. Janet Mills and former politicians from both sides of the aisle.

“I think we can convene the Legislature here, almost,” joked Meredith Strang Burgess, a Maine Historical Society trustee who served three terms as a state representative.

Honorees Beliveau and Pachios grew up in Franco and Greek Maine families at a time when discrimination against immigrants, Catholics and other ethnic groups was rampant. Pachios talked about the importance of today’s historical societies telling these stories so that people understand that new waves of immigrants are no different.


“My own family was not welcome,” said Pachios, whose parents were Greek immigrants. “One hundred years later, no one is asking us to leave.”

After growing up in Cape Elizabeth, Pachios served two years in the U.S. Navy while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C., at night. Upon graduation, he served as associate White House press secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson and later joined Sen. Edmund Muskie’s 1968 vice presidential campaign as director of advance operations. Pachios returned to Maine in 1969, where his many civic roles have included board chair of the University of Southern Maine School of Law, president of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and chair of the Cape Elizabeth School board. These days, Pachios serves on the board of the First Amendment Museum in Augusta and hosts the local television program “Pachios on the News,” discussing current events in government with guests from across the political landscape.

“Harold has been a tremendous resource for the First Amendment Museum,” said Christan Cotz, the museum’s chief executive officer. “He’s a strategic thinker, and his experience and advice are invaluable.”

Continuing to work at their adjoining offices at Preti Flaherty, which has grown to 100 attorneys and five regional offices, Beliveau and Pachios have spent countless hours swapping stories – and laughing. (Beliveau’s reaction to receiving the Maine History Maker award was to quip with a wink, “Long overdue.”)

“I think stories are really important,” said Beliveau, launching into several humorous ones about growing up in Rumford in an Acadian family of trailblazing lawyers and judges. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, Beliveau served in the Maine House of Representatives and later the Maine Senate and was influential in the rise of the Maine Democratic Party after a century of Republican dominance. He was also a champion of Maine’s Franco heritage, serving as an honorary French consular agent for Maine and teaching Franco-American studies at the University of Southern Maine.

“Severin has done so much for the French community in Maine,” said Jacques Santucci of Portland. “He’s an icon.”

“And he knows the art of politics and how to compromise,” said longtime friend Paul Cote of Portland.

“These men are part of the fabric of the community and have added immensely to it,” said Ned Muskie, son of the former Sen. Edmund Muskie.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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