Denise Dutil sits with a portrait of her late son, David Dutil Jr., at Green Street Park in Waterville’s South End on Thursday. A skatepark to be built there will be named in his honor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Denise Dutil sat on the old concrete skatepark in Waterville’s South End on Wednesday remembering her son, David Dutil Jr., who worked so hard to build it several years ago.

While his ashes were scattered on a mountain, miles away, after he died in 2016, the skatepark is where she comes to visit him, she said.

“I just feel close to him when I’m here.”

Construction of a new $135,000 skatepark is to start next week and it will be named Dave Dutil Jr. Memorial Park. A sign there will be erected in his memory.

Denise Dutil, who at the time of his death was David Dutil Sr. and has since transitioned to a woman, is proud the park will be named for him.

“It means the world to me because that was his last wish.”


Denise, then David Sr., was close to her son, though she didn’t imagine he would take his own life at 25. He was depressed but had so much to live for. As a young boy, he and his twin brother, Jade, were daredevils on skateboards, doing backflips on the trampoline in their backyard in Benton. At age 11, David got into rollerblading which would become his passion, while his brother stuck with the skateboard.

After graduating in 2008 from Messalonskee High School in Oakland, David enrolled in the U.S. Army where he was a parachute packer with the 82nd Airborne Division. He would go out in the evenings with a fellow rollerblader and hit the streets. When David returned to Maine after the service, he studied communications and sports marketing at Thomas College,where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015.

I interviewed David in 2013 when he was a sophomore at Thomas and working to raise funds for improvements to the skatepark in the South End. He was ambitious and upbeat, determined to reach a goal of $5,000.

After he left Thomas, he and another brother, Asa, moved to Colorado, a dream David had had since high school. He loved the mountains there. But three months later Asa moved back to Maine. David remained behind, alone in Colorado.

Denise Dutil sits Thursday with a portrait of her late son, David Dutil Jr., at Green Street Park in Waterville where a skatepark will be built and named in his honor. Dutil was 25 when he took his own life in 2016. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

On Jan. 3, 2016, Denise got the news that David was dead.

“When the cop showed up at my door, it took me a while to process it. I was very shocked.”


It wouldn’t be the last tragedy to face the family.

Asa would eventually return to Colorado, where he then also committed suicide. It was incomprehensible to the family, and deeply difficult to bear.

“I lost my dad in November, Dave in January and six months later I lost my mother, and 2 1/2 years later I lost Asa,” Denise said. “There was a very short period of time that I lost all these people that I loved so much but there were still two kids, Samantha and Jade, who needed someone. It took me a while to understand. Grief doesn’t have a timeline. Everybody does it differently.”

After time had passed, David Dutil Sr. began to turn inward, focusing on what he needed, which was to be who he really was. It may be difficult for people to understand, but the woman that he would become still considers herself her children’s father.

“I’m a woman, and I’m very proud to be that,” she said.

A Winslow native and 36-year employee of Huhtamaki where she works in shipping, Denise, 62, of Waterville, says she got a lot of support from people around her. Her boss, learning of her desire to raise money for the park sign in her son’s name, immediately pitched in to help.


“I’m really lucky that way at work,” she said. “I have bosses that respect me and are willing to help.”

Rien Finch and Jackie Dupont of the organization Friends of Green Street Park, which has been raising funds for the skatepark, were on board with naming the park for Dave Dutil, as was Matt Skehan, director of Waterville Parks and Recreation. They, too, have been supportive.

A rendering of the skatepark planned for Green Street Park in Waterville. Construction is scheduled to begin next week. The park was the site of a previous skatepark, but it had deteriorated to the point it was removed in 2015. Image courtesy of Friends of Green Street Park

Tobias Parkhurst, president of the Maine Skateboard Association, helped do design and related work for the project and has helped raise $30,000. The Waterville City Council approved a $135,000 contract earlier this year with American Ramp Co. of Joplin, Missouri, to install the skatepark.

Meanwhile, Denise visits the park and remembers the joy with which Dave took to it on his rollerblades. She recalls the suicide note, marked with his wish for a new park bearing his name.

She knows she can’t change the past. But through her pain, grief and soul-searching, she has become certain of one thing, the future has possibility. And she offers this advice to those suffering, silent and alone:

“Reach out to the people that love you.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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