PORTLAND - Earle Ellsworth Leavitt - World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor - passed away peacefully at the age of 97 at the Cedars in Portland, Maine, on March 21, 2019.

Earle was born in Gloucester, Mass., on Nov. 23, 1921, to Sadie Douglass and Albert Anthony Leavitt. The Leavitt family had roots in 17th century New England. Earle was an 11th-generation descendant of Deacon John Leavitt of Hingham, Mass. Earle grew up as an only child during the Great Depression in Lowell, Mass. After graduating from Lowell High School in 1939, he and two friends enlisted in the Army Air Corps on Aug. 13, 1940. They were assigned to the 86th Observation Squadron in Hawaii and sailed into Honolulu in December, 1940. That year Earle joined and completed radio school, after which he transferred into the 58th bombardment squadron, based in Hickam Field, Hawaii.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 - almost a year after arriving in Hawaii - Earle woke up to the sound of explosions. He ran outside the barracks to see Japanese planes bombing and strafing Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field. After the attack, Earle transferred to the gunnery section and was assigned with the 531st Bomber Squadron at Canton Island. This stark-white coral atoll with a single palm tree would linger in Earle's mind into his 90s, even as old age slowly faded many of his other memories.

In 1943, Earle was accepted into officer cadet school and enrolled into Oklahoma City University. It was in Oklahoma City that Earle met Marie Elizabeth Wilson. After Earle graduated advanced flight training as a second lieutenant, he married Marie on May 20, 1945, in the air base's chapel in Victoria, Texas.

Earle became eligible for discharge that same year, and he left the service in November to attend the University of New Hampshire. After two years, Earle transferred to Boston University School of Law. After graduating, Earle worked for Century Indemnity Company and then Boston-Old Colony Ins. Co. He then took a longterm position with Employer's Liability Assurance Corp, which later merged with and became known as Commercial Union Assurance.

Earle and Marie settled in Sharon, Mass., and together had four sons: Donald, James, Robert and Dana. While raising their children, Earle became involved in local government, joining the town's finance and shool committees. 

Earle and his family's lives changed in 1962 when Marie discovered she had breast cancer. Despite successful surgery and radiation treatments, in 1965 -soon after Earle and Marie's 20th anniversary - a recurrence of cancer sent Marie to the Pondville Hospital, where she passed away in October 1967, leaving four boys, aged 15, 12, 10, and 9.

Earle met Peg Redmond Arbuckle while they both served on the Sharon School Committee. Friendship led to love, and Earle and Peg married on June 3,1972. Peg and Earle's union created a large family with Earle's four children and Peg's five children from her previous marriage: Donald, Margaret, Mary, Jane and Judith.

Together they made a home in Hingham, Mass., until Earle was offered chief executive for the Medical Malpractice Insurance Association in New York City. Earle and Peg moved to Beekman Place on the East Side in 1976, where they enjoyed years of attending Broadway shows and strolling through Central Park and the city's neighborhoods.

After five years in New York, Earle took the position of president for the Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Portland. He and Peg moved into a large John Calvin Stevens town home on Neal Street in Portland Maine's West End in 1982. With plenty of room for their visiting children and grandchildren, Earle and Peg settled into a life of quieter enjoyments. Earle would wake up at 5 a.m. each day to workout with the Bay Club's "morning crew," then return home to enjoy drinking coffee with the newspapers and finishing the NY Times crossword puzzle. In the afternoons, Earle would sit with Peg contently by the living room fireplace sipping tea - or perhaps a gin-and-tonic. He became famous for making "the best blueberry pancakes in the world" during family gatherings. For many years, Earle was an avid golfer at the Purpoodock Club, a skilled cribbage player, a frequent visitor to the Portland Library, and a faithful Rotary Club member.

As Earle and Peg eased into their 90s, they moved into the Atrium at the Cedars in 2012. Two years later, Peg passed away in March 2014 at the age of 94. After several years of slowly declining health, Earle leaves behind nine children, 16 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, who all greatly miss him, his humor and dapper ways.

A celebration of Earle's life will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland on Saturday, June 8, at 1 p.m., followed by a gathering for friends and family at 125 Vaughan St., Portland. Letters of remembrance can be sent to that address or entered electronically at www.ConroyTullyWalker.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Conroy-Tully-Walker Funeral Home of Portland.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Earle's name to: The Portland Rotary Club, PO Box 1755, ,Portland, ME 04104-1755.