The Unity College community mourns the passing of Donald Mortland, the first faculty member hired upon the founding of the College in 1965. A Searsport resident, Mortland was instrumental in helping the College to adapt from the founding vision for a liberal arts college into the vibrant environmentally focused college of today.
An English Professor who frequently welcomed students into his home, Mortland demonstrated a strong personal commitment to each of his students, challenging and supporting them to achieve their potential.
“He was a gentleman who never raised his voice and led by example,” said Professor Barry Woods, who served with Mortland. “His commitment to Unity College was exemplary. When the College needed him to provide leadership on issues or step into various administrative roles, he always answered the call.”
Among the roles that Mortland filled were Professor, Academic Dean and Chair of the Center for Arts and Humanities. Service to Unity College was a family affair for Mortland and his wife, Jackie, who was an Assistant Librarian. Colleagues remember not only his professionalism, commitment and gentility, but his optimism and generous spirit.
The Unity College community has shared its sense of loss and memories of Mortland on the Alumni Facebook page.
Dan Kinney ’84 praised the personal attention he received from Mortland, who always conveyed a love of reading to his students and enriched their lives. Other alumni pointed to the enormously important role that Mortland played in the history of Unity College.
“Mr. Mortland was my professor, mentor and friend for over 30 years,” wrote Steve Tetreault ’86. “He was a true gentleman, kind and sincere. He cared about me when I was younger, and later on cared just as much for my growing family. He and Mrs. Mortland were always gracious hosts.”
After graduating as valedictorian of Searsport High School, Mortland served in the Army during World War II. He earned degrees from Bowdoin College and Yale, and then embarked on a teaching career at high schools and preparatory schools throughout Maine and New Hampshire. While teaching at Potter Academy, he met Jacqueline Currier. They married and had two children, Deborah and Pamela.
In 1965, Mortland began his teaching career at Unity College. He supported the idea of making the attainment of a college education more accessible to those in Waldo County. His career at Unity College spanned over 30 years.
Mortland is survived by his daughters, Pamela Mortland and her spouse Anita Ballou of Milton, Mass., and Deborah Woodbury and her husband Michael Woodbury of Morrill; his grandchildren Jennifer, Laura, Kelsey and Reid Woodbury and wife Regina; as well as great-grandchildren Riley, Anna, and Reid Woodbury II.
Services to celebrate his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, at Young Funeral Home, 31 West Main St., Searsport. A reception with light fare will follow at Ocean’s Edge Restaurant at the Fireside Inn.