Distinguished Alumni Award: Gerald “Gay” Kiesman '44

Gerald “Gay” Kiesman was born in Fryeburg and grew up during the depression in East Fryeburg. He graduated from Fryeburg Academy with the class of 1944. At the age of 18, Gay was enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight in World War II. He went to war even though he was granted a deferment since all of his older brothers were already serving (think Saving Private Ryan). Soon after enlisting, he found himself on a troop transport to the Philippine Islands as part of General MacArthur’s liberation group.

Gay married Ada Allard from Conway, New Hampshire and they raised three boys, Paul ‘73, Roger ‘78, and Jerry ‘80.

From early on in life, Gay was all about service. Enlisting when he didn’t have to was just the first example of his commitment. While in the Philippines he joined the Fryeburg Fire Department and he is currently the oldest member of any fire department in Maine and last fall, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Maine Fire Fighters as well as the Spirit of America Award from the Oxford County Fire Commissioners.

Upon returning from the war, he became a member of the American Legion as well as the Mason’s. Other positions he has held over the years include co-founder of the Fryeburg Rescue, special police officer, town fire warden, and civil defense director. For many years he launched the docks in the Saco River for swimming lessons, as well as retrieving them in the fall.

He worked for Osgood Brothers for 48 years before retiring and launching his second career with the Maine Forest Service. During this time he served in many capacities including driving a jet fuel refueling truck. This was especially exciting since it allowed him the privilege of having hundreds of gallons of A-1 jet fuel to be parked in his yard overnight. Gay worked for more than a decade with the Forest Service before retiring, again.

Gay and Ada also started a small ceramic business, A & G Ceramics, which housed more than ten thousand molds. They were very active in the Fryeburg Fair as Gay held the coveted position of “Chairperson of the Signs.” This meant he drove to all the intersecting roadways into
Fryeburg to make sure the signage was intact and accurate. He would leave every day by 4:30 am, so he would be back in time to open the exhibitor’s barns.

Currently, in this phase of his retirement, he keeps several beehives, maintains a half-acre farm plot, and is still active in the fire department. He was honored last fall with a trip to Washington, DC, as part of Honor Flight Maine. His son, Jerry, accompanied him. Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for their service and sacrifices. The organization transports heroes to DC to tour, experience, and reflect at their memorials.

Gay’s entire life has been about service, service to country, state, community, and neighbor. He would have it no other way.

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