Stephen Aylward was loved and respected in the city of Portland, Maine, as an educator, a man of his community, and as a passionate advocate for his local rail-trail.
In the city where he grew up, and later raised a family of his own, he is remembered warmly by those who studied under his instruction, and those who worked beside him.
Aylward was killed in a car accident in October last year.
But thanks to a touching gesture by a local group inspired by Aylward's community spirit, his name will forever be associated with the Riverton Rail Trail he helped establish.
Portland Trails announced on Earth Day last Sunday that the group will dedicate a kiosk and bench along the Riverton Rail Trail in memory of Aylward.
In a recent story in the Portland Daily Sun, Portland Trails' Jaime Parker said Aylward was the person who got the ball rolling on the rail-trail project, and that he dedicated huge amounts of his own time and resources to bring it to fruition. He was a key factor in converting what was a rutted-up track in disrepair to a much-loved community asset.
"He had a really strong passion for his neighborhood," Parker said.
A strong believer in the value of rail-trails, Aylward would have been pleased to hear that, elsewhere in Maine, work is soon to begin on another section of the Mountain Division Trail, bringing the trail 2.5 miles closer to its eventual goal of stretching 52 miles from Portland to Fryeburg, to the northwest.
According to the Concord Monitor, R.J. Grondin and Sons, a third generation family-owned construction business based in Maine, won the contract to build the 2.5-mile portion of multi-use trail. Seven miles have been completed in various towns along the route, and last October a 1.5-mile section opened in Fryeburg.
Spearheaded by the nonprofit Maine Mountain Division Trail Alliance, once completed the trail would connect nine towns with what would no doubt be a destination trail for hikers and riders from all over the country.
The trail follows the former Portland and Ogdensburg Railway corridor, which once connected Portland with the St. Lawrence Seaway and Montreal.