Leslie Bex

Leslie "Les" Bex Jr.

Saturday, October 19th, 2019
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CAMDEN.....................Captain Leslie E. Bex Jr, 81, of Camden, passed away on October 19, 2019 at the Sussman House in Rockport.
Born in Ashland, WI. on November 24, 1937, he was the son of Leslie and Valeria (Gusneiski) Bex and attended Batavia High School in Illinois, where he was active in football and earned his Eagle Scout. Les Attended the University of Illinois majoring in Mechanical Engineering graduating in 1961. Soon after graduation, Les married Ann McDonald on June 24, 1961 and relocated to Seattle, WA, where he started working for Boeing Aerospace, before moving to Laconia, NH.
Les fell in love with sailing and the sea while on vacation in Camden. In 1969, he returned to Camden and purchased Maine Windjammer Cruises including the Mattie (Grace Bailey), Mercantile and Mistress. He spent many years as Captain; sharing his love for the outdoors and sailing. In 1979, he purchased the Betselma and continued to spread his knowledge of rope tying and the history of Camden.
Active in the community, Les served as board member of the YMCA, Coach of the Sailfish swim club, US Swimming referee, and on the Ski Patrol at the Camden Snow Bowl during the winter months. A talented Circus Model builder, Less owned a circus wagon commissioned by the Circus Museum in Baraboo, WI. Les also enjoyed displaying his Bex Bros. miniature circus layouts.
Les is survived by his children, Katherine (Steve) Shepard, Forsyth, IL and Michael Bex, Owls Head; grandchildren, Elizabeth and Logan Shepard; brother Anthony (Paula) Bex, Batavia, IL; several nieces and nephews.
Interment at sea is planned for the summer of 2020 when a memorial memorial service will be announced. Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting his Book of Memories at www.longfuneralhomecamden. Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain Street, Camden.
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susan taylor

Posted at 10:20am
I worked for Les for 7 summers when he owned the Betselma. He was a wonderful boss, and a good friend and I was so fortunate to have known him. He had a deep intelligence , a great sense of humor and was kind to all he met. He will be deeply missed !
Susan Taylor

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:26pm

Thank you! Your kind words are a comfort.

Rolanda Hunt Klapatch

Posted at 03:32pm
Most of my memories of Captain Les Bex while probably should be joyful in a memorial wall were occupied mostly by fear. Fear I could not meet his standard of excellence. (Fear that I later must say translated to developing my work ethic and own personal standards of excellence.) My very first job was working for him on the schooners as a cabin girl for a few years cleaning the schooners on Saturdays when they docked to get ready for the next weeks passengers. There was a group of us who applied for the job but I feel quite sure I was one of the most persistent applicants, as I always wanted to work on those boats. I have to say the first summer for a 14 year old was harder than I ever imagined. Out of the six young woman who cycled though the summer I was the first to arrive and outlasted the rest by the end of the season. Captain Bex was adamant that the schooner cabins be spotless and the beds had to be made like Marine bunks and he had a very particular way he wanted that all done. The test was... could he bounce a dime off the finished bed which he routinely did and ripped apart the ones that did not meet the Marine standards. As I said I lasted that summer and never had a bunk ripped apart. After the first year I think he gave me a certain amount of respect and trust, as he no longer ever checked my cabins. And would generously bestow the smile where his face lit up if something pleased him. During those years I remembered going to his various storage sheds to haul linens etc back to the schooners and at one point saw a lot of his amazing Circus collection, boat building, amazing and unusual projects and thousands of tools. He was a complex man with many sides. Some were visible and others that were not.

However, one of my favorite stories goes as follows… I was hanging out down on the docks one September day after school and a hurricane was coming up the coast. He wanted to bring the Mattie in from outer harbor but needed help and his regular crew was already gone for the season. He asked me if I thought I could do it. I was thrilled to be able to help as I have mentioned I loved those schooners like they were humans. So off we went out in the yawl boat with the winds blowing and waves in the harbor. All the way out he was giving directions about what I was to do on the way back… of which I could unfortunately only half hear of what he was saying. If I asked him to repeat them he became ever increasingly agitated!

We finally got out to the boat, set everything up and started back in with the Mattie. I was supposed to be at the helm slightly steering as he pushed us with the yawl boat. Moving ropes around and so on. Let me just say I must have missed some of the more critical parts of the instructions. We finally made it in with a couple of near misses of some other boats whose owners also were seeking shelter and nearly becoming a permanent fixture in the Camden Amphitheater! I thought we both were going to have breakdowns before we ever got the schooner safely secured. His breakdown in fury and fright and mine in fear of his fury and fright! However, again I learned a life long lesson from Captain Bex about listening and always asking if I didn’t know something or could not hear something said by someone else.

Captain Bex now as an very grown up adult I just want to say thank you for all you taught me about doing things right. I hope you are sailing somewhere fabulous in warm waters with a good wind at your back and at peace at last.

Rolanda Hunt Klapatch

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:28pm

I think you hit the nail on the head...working hard to get approval and that smile! He certainly instilled a strong work ethic in all

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:28pm

I think you hit the nail on the head...working hard to get approval and that smile! He certainly instilled a strong work ethic in all

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:29pm

...he met and expected much more! Thank you for your kind words.

John Worth

Posted at 08:58am
Captain Les was an amazing guy and he had a major impact on my life and that of my family. I started work for Les in 1973 as his mate on the Schooner Mercantile. He was an extremely talented man and very hard worker. He was a mentor and I have many memories of those halcyon summers sailing with him. I met my wife aboard the "green boats". Les gave me many opportunities and showed a lot of confidence in me as I Captained several of his boats. He could take a peach pit and turn it into an amazing monkey with just a pen knife. I loved his circus and his enthusiasm whenever he set it up. His carpentry skills were impressive and he taught me so much and I still draw on those lessons.
Fair winds and following seas my friend.

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:32pm

Thank you for your kind words! I love my memories of those sailing days!

Jeff Burnett

Posted at 11:33pm
My sincere condolences to Les's family and friends. I had worked the Mattie, Merc, and Mistress prior to Les's taking ownership and enjoyed several visits with him when visiting Camden and later enjoying a conversation on Betselma. May he be held in the light.

Katherine Shepard Posted at 06:32pm

Thank goodness for your kind words.

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