READFIELD – Willard Robert Harris, Jr., passed away at his home in Readfield with his loving wife Bonnie and friends at his side on Sunday, March 12, 2023. He finally succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung disease that he was diagnosed with in 2015, after an admirable fight to stay with us. Will grew up in a farmhouse referred to as the “Old Homestead” in West Gardiner, the son of Margaret and Willard Robert Harris, Sr.

Will graduated the salutatorian of Gardiner High School in 1969 and went on to attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham. At UNH he studied psychology, played in a rock band, and worked in drilling and blasting on construction sites during summers. He also met his first wife, Catherine (Leblanc) Gibson, with whom he would later have a son, Andrew, in 1984 and a daughter, Margaret, in 1986.

Following graduation from UNH, Will worked as a mental health aide at Bangor Mental Health Institute for a short time before starting his 38-year career in Maine state government. Will served in the Department of Conservation for 30 years, the last seven of which he was Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. He was a champion of public parks and lands, and believed in equity of access for all the people of Maine. Included among his professional accomplishments are the State Parks Passport, the Loon Plate, and the Take It Outside program.

In 1992, Will remarried and joined families with his wife, Bonnie, becoming a stepfather to Casey Coyne, Caitlyn Coyne, Heide Provencher, and Shawn Provencher. Will was a supportive and caring father to all of his children. He and Bonnie moved to Readfield where they enjoyed 30 years of marriage.

Will’s great passions were his family, music, and fishing. He was the proud owner of a fishing boat and he loved to take his children to the local lakes. He also led longer family camping trips (sometimes despite the weather), and vacations to a fishing and hunting camp in Northern Maine. Will was an avid reader, and his interests spanned genres but included his beloved “cowboy stories.” He was witty and intellectual, and will be remembered as a great thinker.

Will always had a love of music, both listening and playing, sometimes his own original music. He started on the drums in high school in his first band “Another Quality Product,” then learned guitar in college which he continued to play for the rest of his life. Family and friends will recall that on a visit to Bonnie and Will’s house, Will was frequently found in his music room or on the front porch in nice weather, playing his guitar. After being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, he produced three original albums with the help of his long time friend, Pat Colwell. The last album, One More Thing Before I Go, was recorded while requiring oxygen.

Will is survived and remembered with love by his wife, Bonnie Harris; his children, Andrew Harris, Margaret Goldstein, Caitlyn Coyne, Casey Coyne and Heide Provencher; his sons-in-law, Jarrod Goldstein, Paul-Joseph Cummings and Dana Drummond, his daughter-in-law, Carrie Provencher; his grandchildren, Mariah Provencher, Benjamin Goldstein, Eva Goldstein and Saul Cummings; his sister, Carol Harris Despres, her three children and their partners and her five grandchildren; his brother-in-law, Peter Kellman and sister-in-law, Rebekah Yonan.

He was predeceased by his sister, Melodie; and his son, Shawn Provencher.

There will be a private graveside memorial service in the spring. All of Will’s family and friends will be invited to a celebration of life when the weather is warm.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the

Land for Maine’s

Future Program

by contacting Tammara Roberts at 207-287-2801; or

Allagash Wilderness

Waterway Foundation online; or by check to:


P.O. Box 10008,

Portland, ME 04104

(tax ID: 45-3597466).

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