O. William Robertson, 90, insurance executive and former Portland City Councilor, died Thursday, October 19, 2017 at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was born in 1926 in Boston, MA, the son of Oliver W. and Cleriece Robertson, he grew up in Cape Cod.
During World War II he served in the Pacific as a Navy radioman/gunner in a carrier based dive bombing squadron. Following the war, he graduated from the University of Maine in 1951 with a degree in journalism.
After a year with the Worcester, MA Evening Gazette as a reporter and assistant city desk editor, Robertson returned to Portland as a field representative for the Travelers Insurance Company. In 1955 he became a partner and then president of Turner Barker Insurance Agency.
In 1961 he was elected to serve on the Portland City Council as councilor-at-large and was instrumental in the creation of Riverside Industrial Park and Portland’s department of economic development. Although regarded as a conservative, he formed a close friendship and often voted with liberal councilors Harold Loring and Ralph Amergian. Together with Widgery Thomas, then president of Canal Bank, he raised funds to complete the bronze casting of the Lobsterman Statue which now stands in Portland Square. Created by Victor Cahill in 1938 for the World’s Fair, the plaster original had languished in Portland City Hall.
In 1967 Robertson was one of several local business people who purchased the former Casco Bank Building at 477 Congress Street, now known as the “Time and Temperature Building”. In 1977 the office building at 465 Congress Street was also acquired. Both properties were sold in 1984.
In 1985 he sold his interest in Turner Barker Insurance and founded Insurance Risk Management, an insurance consulting firm serving New England businesses. In 1987, IRM purchased Penn General Services, a third party workers’ compensation claims administration company serving insured New England employers, and the name was changed to Northern General Services. In 1994 Northern General Services was purchased by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine.
Active in aviation most of his life, Robertson held an airline transport pilot’s license and was a specialist in aviation insurance. He was president of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce in 1974 and 1975, and president of the Maine Chapter of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters in 1985. Of Scottish heritage, he served in later years as overseas vice chairman for the Scottish based Clan Donnachaidh Society, the major surnames of which are Robertson, Duncan and Reid. In this position he and his wife regularly visited clan branches in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and 13 branches throughout the United States.
He is survived by his wife Cheryl; two sons, Jeffrey and his wife Bernice of Rochester, NY and Jamie and his wife Standolyn of Los Angeles, CA; a stepson Shawn Tarbox and his wife Elizabeth, one stepdaughter, Lianne Smith and her husband Daniel of Rochester, IL; two daughters, Bonnie Smith of Yarmouth and Lori Glenn and her husband Paul of Rochester, NH.
There will be a graveside service at 9 a.m. on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 163 Mt. Vernon Rd., Augusta, ME 04330. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill’s name may be made to the Animal Refuge League, 217 Landing Rd., Westbrook, ME 04092. Arrangements by Hope Memorial Chapel, 480 Elm St., Biddeford, ME 04005. To share condolences online, please visit www.HopeMemorial.com.
Charitable donations may be made to:
Animal Refuge League
217 Landing Road, Westbrook ME 04092