The Daily Me


CORINNA - Col. Leslie James Bolstridge II (USAF, ret.) died Jan. 11, 2010 at home in Corinna, Maine. He was 89 and had been ill for several years.

Col. Bolstridge was born in Baltimore, MD on March 23, 1920, the oldest child of Loren and Lena (Ervin) Bolstridge. His parents, originally of Corinna, were living in Baltimore while Mr. Bolstridge worked at Sparrows Point, then the world's largest steel mill and the place that made the girders in the Golden Gate Bridge. Shortly afterward, the family returned to Corinna, where Leslie graduated from the Corinna Union Academy. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maine in agriculture, and a master's degree from George Washington University in foreign affairs.

In 1943, Col. Bolstridge enlisted in what was then the US Army Air Force, and was stationed in Boca Raton, FL., where he taught radio operation and electronics, and met his future wife, Mary Lee McRae of McRae, GA., a US Army nurse who had trained at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. They married in 1946.

The Bolstridges returned to Corinna, where Col. Bolstridge purchased his parents' property, Smiling Hill Farm, on what is now Bolstridge Road. Their daughter Mary Ann was born in 1949. When hostilities broke out in Korea in 1950, the Colonel was recalled to duty by the US Air Force. He was stationed in Japan, where he developed a network of listening posts that allowed NATO forces to eavesdrop on enemy radio transmissions, giving them the upper hand in air engagements. His younger child and son, Loren III, was born in Japan in 1953.

Colonel Bolstridge's Air Force career was so notable that much of his work remains classified. He worked primarily with the USAF Security Service, the intelligence arm of the US Air Force, managing electronic eavesdropping from the United States, Europe and the Pacific. His posts included the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, MD, and NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain, WY. In Hawaii and Guam, he helped plan Operation Linebacker, the continuous heavy bombing campaign of North Vietnam (known as the "Christmas bombings") that marked the last years of the Vietnam War. For his work on Operation Linebacker, he shared in the 1972 Collier Trophy, awarded by the National Aeronautic Association to "the Officers and Men of the 7th Air Force and 8th Air Force of the United States Air Force and Task Force 77 of the United States Navy." (Ten years later, his son Loren would share the 1982 Collier Trophy for development of Boeing Corp.'s 757 and 767 aircraft. They are believed to be one of the few father-son pairs to win the prize for unrelated efforts.)

Col. Bolstridge retired from the Air Force in 1977 and went to work for the RCA Corp. on classified advanced communication systems for the United States and foreign governments. He and his wife lived in Camden, NJ for 10 years, until retiring for a second time and returning to Corinna.

Col. Bolstridge treasured his boyhood home and expressed that love through support of the town's planning and water boards, parsonage committee, food bank and community economic development projects. He helped found the Corinna Historical Society in the building where he had attended school, and was its first president and one of its most significant benefactors. A plaque at the society honors his major gifts. He was a member of the Corinna United Methodist Church.

Col. Bolstridge was preceded in death by his wife and daughter; his brothers Loren Dewey Bolstridge, Jr., and Lloyd A. Bolstridge, Sr. and a sister Lorraine Porter.

He is survived by his brother Elmer Bolstridge of Corinna; his sisters Lois Bowers of Bangor and Leatrice Moore of Crystal River, FL; his son-in-law, Earl Klevins of Corinna; his son Loren Dewey Bolstridge III and his daughter-in-law Maryn McKenna of Minneapolis and Atlanta; his sister-in-law, Audrey Bolstridge of Corinna; several nieces and nephews.

Friends may call from 6 to 8 PM Wednesday at the Crosby & Neal Chapel, 68 Exeter Road, Corinna. Funeral services will be held 1 PM Thursday, January 14th, at the Corinna United Methodist Church with the Rev. Grace Mazhandu officiating. Spring burial will be in the Morses Corner Cemetery, Corinna.

Memorial donations may be made to the Corinna Union Academy Trustee's Scholarship, in care of Mrs. Ruth Hudson, 441 Nokomis Road, Corinna, ME 04928. Those who wish may leave written condolences at

Graveside committal services for Col. Leslie Bolstridge, II, (USAF, Retired), who died January 11, 2010, will be held 11 AM Friday, May 7th, at Morses Corner Cemetery, Corinna, with the Rev. Grace Mazhandu officiating. The Corinna American Legion Post will conduct military honors at his request. Arrangements are by Crosby & Neal Chapel, 68 Exeter Road, Corinna.

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