As a young man, Ted Johanson split his time between working at his family’s shoe factory near Swampscott, Massachusetts, and hauling lobster traps. Although he loved life on the water, his experience in the family business ultimately brought him to his livelihood: In 1963 he launched Falcon Shoe in Lewiston-Auburn.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia-born Patricia Lundholm served as a VISTA volunteer following college. She eventually moved to Maine and found a job at Falcon Shoe through a temp agency. She took charge of the company’s computer operations. And somewhere along the way, she and Johanson married.
When Johanson sold Falcon Shoe in 1999, the couple retired to Vinalhaven. Selling the business gave them the means to be more philanthropic. “We’re kind of modest people, but all of a sudden we had some tangible assets that we never had before,” says Johanson. Almost as soon as the sale went through, they established a donor-advised fund with the Maine Community Foundation. The couple chose the foundation because, says Johanson, they wanted to be able to support “people you can touch, reach out to, people whose faces we can see.”
While Johanson and Lundholm support larger institutions like Maine Public Broadcasting and Maine Coast Heritage Trust, they direct most of their philanthropic dollars to Vinalhaven. The very survival of this year-round community, they believe, depends upon having a thriving school, a reliable medical center, and protection of its extraordinary natural environment.
When they were running Falcon Shoe, the couple hadn’t been able to devote as much time to volunteering as they would have liked. Now they relish the opportunity to engage with the island community. Lundholm has been interim town manager and a member of the board of selectmen. She joined the ambulance service and will soon be its chief. Johanson has been president of Vinalhaven’s medical center and served as the town’s water and sewer commissioner.
“It’s wicked fun to give,” says Lundholm. Johanson agrees, adding, “Both of us feel an obligation to the community. That’s probably why we’re married.”
Vinalhaven Land Trust is conducting a capital campaign to purchase and preserve Big Tiptoe Mountain, a favorite spot for islanders to take in sweeping western views of Penobscot Bay, but also a property rich in biodiversity. The campaign, part of the trust’s 25th anniversary celebration, includes the creation of an endowment for sustained stewardship. Johanson and Lundholm have supported the Vinalhaven Land Trust through their donor-advised fund at the Maine Community Foundation. Photo by Kerry Hardy, courtesy of Vinalhaven Land Trust