Donald Anspach

Obituary of Donald F. Anspach

In loving Memory of Donald Fredrick Anspach, August 10, 1942- April 30, 2020 Donald Fredrick Anspach, 77, of Portland, Maine, passed away on April 30, 2020 in his residence at Crawford Commons in Union, Maine. Reverend Benjamin Shambaugh of St. Luke's Episcopal Church said prayers with daughter, Jennifer Anspach and her husband, Aaron Williams over the phone at that time of Donald’s cremation. Friends and family lit candles and shared this moment near and far. A formal service and scattering of his ashes will take place at a future time. Donald F. Anspach was born in Derry Township outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania, to Evelyn Alice Yeagley and Donald Raymond Anspach on August 10, 1942. He was the first of his family to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College, and was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity. In 1970, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Sociology at Case Western Reserve University, where he met and married Allison Morrill. The focus of his dissertation and subsequent collaborative research with his faculty advisor, George Rosenberg, was kinship relations in working class families. The two co-authored journal publications and a book Working Class Kinship in America (1973). Following his graduate studies, he and his family relocated to Maine. Dr. Anspach taught sociology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland from 1970 to 2006, when he retired as Full Professor. Over nearly 40 years, he taught and mentored numerous faculty and hundreds of students. Among them was Andrew S. Ferguson (1973-2017). The two became friends and research partners at the Muskie Institute of Public Policy. Dr. Anspach evaluated Maine's innovations and changes in substantive criminal law in 1978. This work in sentencing reform was updated in 2004 with Andrew Ferguson, and Laura Phillips for the Office of Substance Abuse (OSA). Dr. Anspach and Andrew Furgeson’s published research on criminal sentencing patterns in Maine became a basis for Project Exodus – Maine’s First Treatment Drug Court funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice, and published by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse. Their findings were instrumental in establishing an option for people with substance use disorders who commit nonviolent crimes to participate in treatment instead of imprisonment in the state of Maine and nationally. The drug court program is still in use today. During a sabbatical in the late 70s, Dr. Anspach studied at Sheffield University in England, from which he received an additional Masters Degree in Socio-Legal Studies in 1992. Dr. Anspach applied his knowledge and renewed connections in the British Justice and Education systems to create an innovative Summer Sociology Program Abroad for USM. In collaboration with Women’s Studies Professor and friend, Dr. Wendy Chapkis, this program was offered equitably to interested students, and was highly praised by participants. Dr. Anspach held a leadership role with the faculty Union, including serving as president of the AFUM in 2005. He received the title as AFUM Negotiating Team Chair Emeritus in 2006 to “recognize his years of dedicated service since the 1970’s, vigorous advocacy and leadership in advancing faculty interests throughout the University of Maine systems.” He also received a Faculty Award from USM for Excellence in Community Service in 1999. Donald was the Director of the Soup Kitchen at St. Luke’s for over 20 years, and helped to centralize meal services for homeless people in the community under the umbrella of Preble Street Resource Center Soup Kitchen. As described by Mark Swann of Preble Street: “Don was the real deal. He would be the first person to roll up his sleeves and work towards social and economic justice. He did that, in part, by working to alleviate hunger in the Greater Portland Community. He did so with good humor, a can-do attitude, and a constant and compassionate focus on the people who needed a little help.” Don was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He celebrated 25 years of sobriety, and then more recently an additional 8 years. Beyond his own very real struggle, the AA community was a very important part of his life. He sponsored countless people who, to this day, credit him in part for being alive, and certainly for his support in taking important steps in their path of recovery. He was modest about his achievements, though he worked toward them daily. He did not boast, because his goal was not to achieve, but to give. He was adventurous, fun, daring, engaging, witty, interested, spontaneous, funny, mischievous, wise, provocative, and unpretentious. He was generous to a fault, and gave the shirt off his back without blinking when he thought it would help. He challenged us to challenge ourselves, explore the world, strive to be better humans, and not to be complacent. He gave anyone trying a second, third, and fourth chance. He welcomed strangers in need of food, shelter or company to his dinner table as if they were family, especially during holidays. He also found joy in the unconditional love and companionship of dogs, and strays who found their way to him were taken in without hesitation. This is the man most of us knew, and hold in our hearts. Donald was a loving and caring father. He and his daughter, Jennifer, enjoyed many adventures traveling together. They traveled to England to visit friends, explored Europe, the US, and Central America. In the fall of 2016, Jennifer and her fiance, Aaron S Williams returned to Maine to marry. Don visited with old friends and family he had not seen in some time. He had worked for months to overcome mobility challenges, and on her wedding day, proudly walked his daughter down the aisle. He always enjoyed a good cup of coffee with a friend, as well as buying, restoring and selling antiques, traveling, riding his motorcycle, and boating the waters of Casco Bay. Donald F Anspach is survived by: his daughter, Jennifer Lynn Anspach and son-in-law, Aaron Scott Williams of Arlington, Washington; nephews, Michael Spaulding of Dayton, Ohio; Chris Spaulding of Hookstown, Pennsylvania; and Jeremy Spaulding of Lewisberry, Pennsylvania and their families; stepchildren, Scott Christensen of Oceanside, New York, and Michelle Noel of Freeport, Maine; former spouse, Jennifer’s mother, Allison Morrill of Belfast, Maine. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Patricia Anspach Spaulding. Jennifer wishes to extend her gratitude to all of those who reached out to call or send personal messages to Don in his last days and most recent years, to the faithful staff at Crawford Commons and hospice caregivers. Special appreciation to Reverend Ben Shambaugh, Wendy Chapkis and Gabriel Demaine, Ed Cole, Francis and Ellen Jackson, for their steadfast love and support, and to Jennifer’s family and friends who have helped her to be there for her father. Donations of money or food may be made in Donald’s memory, and in lieu of flowers, to Preble Street Resource Center Food Program, 38 Preble Street, Portland, Maine 04101 or through Alternatively, a gift “In Memory of Donald F Anspach” may be sent to Franklin and Marshall College Financial Aid Fund, PO Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604 or through While we cannot gather together at this time, we can honor his memory by sharing stories, volunteering, lighting a candle, attending a meeting, reaching out to a person in need, and exercising our right to vote. To share a memory, be informed of his Memorial, or leave a message of condolence, please visit or send an email to
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