Dr. James D. Aguiar

  • Born: December 10, 1946
  • Died: August 13, 2015
  • Location: Campton, New Hampshire

Tribute & Message From The Family


Dr. James D. Aguiar, beloved husband, father, grandpa, and friend, died at home on August 13. Despite a cancer diagnosis in 2013, Jim continued to pursue his passions: music, coaching, travel, and politics.

Jim was born in Biddeford, Maine, on December 10, 1946 to Daniel J. Aguiar, Sr., a machinist, and Jennie (Sparkowich) Aguiar. As a 1965 graduate of Biddeford High School, Jim was a two-time state wrestling champion at 165 pounds and the school's first all-state football player.

Jim attended Boston University on a football scholarship and helped start a wrestling program. He also frequented the coffeehouses of the folk music scene, playing gigs on his prized Gibson guitar. In December 1968, he married his college sweetheart Martha Back. After earning his BS in 1969, he pursued a Master's degree at the University of Oregon while coaching football.

In 1974, Jim was hired as an assistant professor of health education, assistant football coach, and head wrestling coach at Plymouth State. Jim was a demanding and creative teacher and respected coach whose wrestling squads tallied over one hundred dual meet victories during his tenure. In 1981, Jim stepped in as head football coach, setting a positive tone for a struggling team while posting a winning season.

Jim earned his doctorate in education from Boston University in 1986. He went on to teach and coach wrestling at Moorhead State University (MN). In 1988, he moved to Ithaca College (NY), where he spent the remainder of his career teaching health education and supervising student teachers.

After returning to New Hampshire, Jim became active in local Democratic politics. In 2005, he won the first of five elections to serve in the State House of Representatives. He was particularly proud of helping to pass the Marriage Equality Law and introducing local elementary students to government.

Jim also returned to Plymouth State as an assistant wrestling coach, focusing especially on recruitment and alumni relations. Recently, he was inducted into the Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame, the New England Wrestling Hall of Fame, and won the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance's Lifetime Achievement Award. In honor of his longstanding contributions, Plymouth State established the annual Jim Aguiar Wrestling Tournament.

Jim had many passions. Together with Martha, he explored all seven continents and fifty states. He played guitar at open mic nights and farmers' markets, and sang at his daughters' weddings and for his grandchildren. He loved his boats–sailing Cayuga Lake, puttering around Squam, kayaking southern swamps, and venturing out solo on Lake Champlain.

But on any given day, you'd find Jim in overalls at his house overlooking the Pemi, attending to one household project or another, forever fixing, adapting, and problem solving.

Along with his wife, he is survived by daughters Gretchen and son-in-law Jeff Allred, and Jessica and son-in-law Shane Mack; his brother Daniel; his beloved nieces; and his cousins. Jim was preceded in death by his parents and sister Janice Mazur. He will be deeply missed by his grandchildren Seamus (Moose), Hattie, Henry (Hank), Hazel, and Bee.

Jim also leaves behind a wide circle of treasured friends. He never forgot a birthday and always made a call to those in need. During his long illness, countless friends stepped in and help sustain the Aguiar family with calls, visits, rides, meals, and love. Thanks to Pemi Baker Hospice, Jim was able to be at home in his final days, cherishing visits with loved ones. The messages of tribute to Jim's lasting influences on people's lives truly warmed his heart.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 22 at 10 a.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to: The Aguiar Family Award, c/o Treasurer, Biddeford High School, 20 Maplewood Avenue Biddeford, ME 04005. Or, Friends of Plymouth Wrestling c/o Coach Ryan Schieding, Plymouth State University P.E. Center, Plymouth NH, 03264.