“David always said that as a chaplain he needed to be a comedian, as laughter has great healing power,” Chaplain Major David Sivret’s family shared. “He also was known to say that Jesus was a carpenter and fed the people both physically and spiritually and he worked hard to follow the example of Christ.”
Sivret passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, leaving behind his wife Sherry, five children, 13 grandchildren, and a lasting legacy to many with his numerous contributions to the community.
Well known throughout the greater-Calais area for his giving nature, Sivret “would always find something that needed to be done and would find a way to do,” his children said. It was this love for others and his desire to always be giving that led him to many community service projects.
He enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard in 1976, and in 2003, was deployed to Iraq with the 133rd Engineer Battalion as the Battalion Chaplain, earning a Purple Heart before retiring from the Guard in 2006.
Sivret’s retirement, however, did not end his service to fellow veterans and military personnel. He was the current Commander of Boyd-Smith Mitchell Memorial Post #9779 Veterans of Foreign Wars, also having served as Past State Chaplain.
Even more, Sivret supported many commanders by coordinating, integrating, and supervising religious services, ministries, and moral support for the commands. As well, he coordinated family enrichment seminars and took an active role in suicide prevention and awareness programs.
Sivret’s family noted, “His service was not for accolades or to be recognized–it was to help make someone else’s life better.”
Nearly two years ago, the Calais Veterans Center opened its doors on Main Street in Calais, thanks to the efforts of Sivret. He wanted a safe place for all veterans to receive support, socialize, attend meetings, and receive services. Sivret made this happen through his vision and his determination to always help others.
“David always cared about veterans and would go out of his way to help them,” said Pastor Bobby Oliver, also a veteran. “He was always organizing get-togethers and fellowship meals at restaurants for veterans to be together, but we didn’t have a place to call our own. David felt it was important for us to have one so we could use it to bring the veteran community together.”
Oliver said it was Sivret who found the location and ensured the necessary painting, plumbing, and carpentry got completed. “He worked on everything in there to get it where it is today.”
It is because of Sivret, Oliver said, that local veterans have a place to be together. “The VFW and American Legion both meet [at the center], which has caused there to be more active participation in both groups, something David wanted.”
Sivret was Oliver’s “hero,” whom he will never forget. “The veteran community was blessed to have him and we will miss him so much. But what he left behind for us is a precious gift, and hopefully we can make him proud as we keep the vet center going for our veterans.”
American Legion Sherman Brothers Post #3 Commander Jim Myers echoed Oliver’s sentiments. “I looked up to Chaplain Major David Sivret,” he said, expressing the great loss to the community and to local veterans. Myers shared how much he would miss seeing Sivret, “always with a smile on his face.”
“He was an exceptional leader that truly led by example, always going above and beyond to help others. Calais has lost ‘one of the good ones.’... It won't be the same.”
Also of great importance to Sivret was the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry, where he served many years as President up until his passing.
Heather Ross, who, with her husband Carl, spent countless hours volunteering with Sivret at the food pantry, shared, “David was truly one of a kind. He loved a challenge and would work hours himself remodeling a building or trying to get the pantry truck started, but he was a ‘family first’ man. His family was his world, along with all the international students he invited into his home over the years.” He and his wife Sherry hosted foreign students for 11 years as dedicated host parents, all to deliver meaningful intercultural experiences to the students.
Sivret’s volunteerism at the food pantry is what led to the creation of the Calais Community Thrift Store, another local asset spearheaded by Sivret, where those in need could find necessities and other goods. He made sure all had what they needed after a house fire or other tragic event, regardless of one’s ability to pay.
Linda Howe, who helps manage the Calais Community Thrift Store, said she will certainly miss everything about Sivret. “I’m having a hard time imagining a world without him in it. He was always so happy and positive. Anything we asked of him, he made sure it was taken care of. He put his whole heart in everything he was involved in. He was the best and will be sorely missed.”
Donations in David Sivret’s memory may be made to the Chaplain Major David Sivret Scholarship Fund, c/o Sherry Sivret, PO Box 1121, Calais, ME 04619.