Hall of Fame inductees announced by Biddeford Culture and Heritage Center


A group manager, a judge, a writer, a doctor, a real estate developer and Biddeford’s first lawyer all have a few things in common.

They have all left their mark on the community and, in so doing, are this year’s inductees into the Biddeford Hall of Fame, an annual recognition and celebration of those past and present who have left a lasting mark on the city, and a project of the Cultural Center. and heritage of Biddeford.

The fourth edition of the Biddeford Hall of Fame Awards draws attention to those who have made significant contributions to the city and the world at large, said Biddeford Culture and Heritage Center chair Diane Cyr.

The inductees are writer Cora Belle Bickford, who founded a long-standing literary club; the Mayor of Biddeford, York County District Attorney and retired Maine District Court Judge Michael P. Cantara; Biddeford’s doctor, Dr Francis Kleeman, who opened a free clinic in the town; the musician Pierre Painchaud who started a group; the developer of the Douglas Sanford plant who had a vision and made it happen; and Biddeford’s first lawyer, James Sullivan, Biddeford’s representative to the Provincial Congress before the American Revolution, who also served as governor of Massachusetts.

An induction ceremony will take place on June 26 at noon in the council chamber of Biddeford Town Hall. Banners honoring the six recipients will be placed on light poles in downtown Biddeford, and plaques will be added to the display of past recipients found in the council chamber.

“The BCHC is happy to be able to recognize various icons of our great city in a public place, where citizens can remember the achievements of the award recipients,” said Denis Litalien, member of the BCHC board and chair of the committee of the Hall of Fame. “We encourage everyone to join us in congratulating those who have helped make our city a great place to live. “

Cyr expressed his gratitude to the selection committee, noting that members used their knowledge of the history of the city and its people to make informed decisions

Here are the biographies, compiled by BCHC, of ​​those who will be inducted:

Cora Belle Bickford Courtesy photo

• Cora Belle Bickford used many avenues to speak out at a time when women did not have legal property or voting rights. A talented writer, Bickford was a journalist and published author. She taught in high school, one of the few career paths available to women in the 19th century. Her influence and leadership was perhaps most widely felt by her organization of a women’s group in 1896 called the “Thursday Club”, a literary, educational, and social group that met until April 1990. In 1897, a chapter of the girls of The American Revolution was formed and Bickford was appointed regent of the organizing agent. Bickford died in 1923 and is one of the few women whose obituaries made headlines above the waterline in the Biddeford Journal.

Michael P. Cantara Courtesy photo

• Michael Cantara graduated from Biddeford High School in 1971. He studied French language and literature, minor in biology, at Colby College and studied at the University of Caen, Normandy. “I remember being in a classroom when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered,” Cantara recalls. “These (events) marked all the young people back then, and it was hard not to think about where the country was going and what we had to do.” After becoming a lawyer, he practiced in private practice in Biddeford, later became a district attorney and was elected York County District Attorney for several terms. He served a term as Mayor of Biddeford, and he was appointed a District Court Judge, retiring in 2019. He currently serves on the Biddeford Planning Council and remains active in Franco-American activities.

Dr Francis Kleeman Courtesy photo

• In 1992, the children of Dr. Francis Kleeman called him out when they told him that doctors were “pretty bad” because they did not take care of patients without health insurance, according to the BCHC. Six months later, on June 18, 1993, the free Biddeford clinic opened and uninsured people were able to see volunteer doctors and nurses. Staffed with exceptional volunteers, including doctors, registered nurses and a pharmacist, the clinic was open three evenings a week on a first come, first served basis. Community volunteers at the office were the welcoming gateway for patients. When it closed in September 2015, the clinic had provided more than $ 6 million in free care to thousands of people. Over the course of 22 years, Kleeman has become an integral part of many lives, especially those of the patients. Denise Doyon, one of the people who nominated him, said: “Dr. Francis Kleeman’s contributions to the well-being of the residents of Biddeford are immeasurable. Volunteers and patients would attest to this.

Pierre Painchaud Courtesy photo

• Pierre L. Painchaud brought culture and the arts to the city. He was the first, and is considered the most talented Franco-American performer during his lifetime and beyond. In 1870, he formed Painchaud’s Band (La Fanfare Painchaud), one of the first Franco-American groups in New England. It was also one of the oldest continuous groups, performing over a period of over 120 years, breaking up in the mid-1990s, several years after Painchaud’s death in 1909, at the age of 57. Painchaud had many talents and was considered a musical genius by many. He conducted the orchestra, sang, played, played comedies, taught music, and played the violin, cello and crown. He repaired, tuned and made instruments; composed and arranged music; and directed the choir of Saint Joseph. He was a driving force at Biddeford for almost 40 years, and his legacy has lasted much longer. Her whole family was a musician, and for many the name Painchaud was synonymous with the art of Biddeford.

Doug Sanford Courtesy photo

• Doug Sanford has been recognized as the person who saved the town center and the mill complex in Biddeford, according to the BCHC. He began by buying the old Woolworth’s Block in downtown Biddeford in 1982, and went on to acquire various properties around the Mill District, working hard to encourage redevelopment of the nearly abandoned area. Many of the older buildings he purchased have been refurbished into living spaces as well as retail, office, manufacturing and catering establishments, and there are now over 100 businesses inside these. properties. He is considered to have courage and a bold vision of the possibilities offered by old buildings. The region is now responsible for hundreds of people employed in many fields. This has sparked investment in the region unlike anything seen in decades. Sanford’s vision has been a catalyst for further developments in the region, spurring more jobs and investment.

James sullivan Courtesy photo

• James Sullivan was born April 22, 1744 in Berwick, part of the province of Massachusetts, now the state of Maine. Professionals were drawn to the bustling town of Biddeford, and Sullivan was the town’s first resident lawyer. He was a Supreme Court justice, governor of Massachusetts, and Biddeford’s representative in the Provincial Congress before the American Revolution. Sullivan played a leading role in the deliberations of the Meeting House on Old Pool Road at the start of the Revolutionary Period. He supplemented his legal work by acting as an agent for the interests of Boston-based merchants, including John Hancock. He participated in the development of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As an adviser to John Hancock, he is believed to have likely contributed to the development of the Federal Constitution. He had just been elected for his second term as governor when he died on December 10, 1808.


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