Peter Lincoln Willard

website Willard(Dresden, ME) Peter Lincoln Willard (88) died peacefully February 25, 2024, surrounded by his family. Peter was born on June 21, 1935, in Newark, NJ to Warren Wyeth and Grace Kettell Willard. He was their fourth child. He grew up in Wheaton, IL, and on Cape Cod, where his family started a Christian summer camp. His father volunteered during WWII and became a highly decorated Chaplain in the Navy. While his father was away at war, his mother kept the summer camp going and even added acreage to the property. Peter loved the summers he spent on Cape Cod, swimming and sailing on the lake. He majored in Biology at Baylor University and graduated in 1958. He taught high school in Vermont as well as lay-pastored in country churches. He met his wife Jean just after she had backed into her sister’s new car with the family tractor. She was crying and her hair was in curlers. After a few years, they married on June 10, 1964. Peter had been accepted into a graduate program, so they honeymooned as they sped across the country to Wyoming. On the first day of class, he doodled on a classmate’s paper, “I have no idea what is going on,” to which his seatmate doodled back, “Neither do I”. Frank Hayward was from Maine and had a wife and two young children. This was the beginning of a partnership that would last for the next 40 years. After the two graduated with their Master’s degrees in Natural Sciences from the University of Wyoming in 1967, they started a summer camp together in Maine. Peter found the property in Woolwich, ME, and raised the funds to buy it. Frank, his wife Laura, and his family joined Peter and Jean and they opened Chop Point Camp in 1967. The camp was the passion project into which they poured all they had. The summer camp brought 80 teenagers at a time to Maine to have fun and learn about the love of Jesus Christ. In 1975, Peter heard about the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh and hopped on a plane to see how he could help. He started The Widow’s Friend, a project that taught single mothers to embroider so that they could earn a living. His sister, Faith Willard, later stepped in to grow the project into a medical clinic and orphanage. In 1987, Peter and Frank opened Chop Point School on the summer camp property. It is a K-12 school of about 85 students that provides an alternative education to public school. All of the teachers are Christians and they aim to educate and spread the love of Jesus to their students. After many years of bringing students to Mexico City on mission trips, Peter built a facility in Nicaragua where teenagers from the United States host summer camp programs for poor children from that country. Campo Alegria (Camp Happiness) opened in 1997. All four of these projects are still operational.

Peter and Jean were married for 59 years had 4 children. They raised their children to love the Lord and to make their mark on the world. They showed their children how to live by faith and minister to others. Son, Wyeth Willard lives in Idaho with his wife Wendy and they have two children, Corinna and Caeli. Bethany (Willard) Wilkinson and her husband David run Chop Point Camp and School. They have four children, Noah, Elias, Simon, and Ella. Rachel (Willard) Toothaker and her husband, Dr. Rick Toothaker, live in Indiana and have five children; Marliere and her husband Andrew, Anna, Peter, Luke, and Joshua. Drs. Leah (Willard) Elias and her husband John Elias live in Bath and are ER doctors in the mid-coast area. Peter is predeceased by his parents and his siblings, Faith, Hope, and Paul.

Peter’s sense of fun and adventure extended to a love of humor and practical jokes. A cup of ice water might be tossed on an unsuspecting sunbather, or a coin might be found at the bottom of an offered cup of coffee.

Some of his family’s fondest memories formed as they traveled the world with a man who had a heart for serving his Savior. He pursued an inexhaustible plethora of projects with dogged determination. Thousands of people have been touched by his enthusiasm to make the world a better place. His family will miss him, but they know that his influence will echo through the souls of many generations to come. There is no question that, when he got to heaven, he heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” 

A celebration of life will be held at Chop Point Camp and School in Woolwich, ME, on June 8, at 11:00 am. A reception will follow. Gifts in his memory may be given in lieu of flowers to Chop Point.