Sarah Dubay, a Bangor city councilor, is seen in this Oct. 8, 2020, file photo. She died Friday from lung cancer at a Bangor hospital. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A first-term Bangor city councilor died of lung cancer on Friday night at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, a close family friend and a fellow city councilor confirmed Saturday.

Sarah Dubay, 46, told the city councilors of her illness in the early summer, but continued her duties until the past several weeks.

Her friend Shelley Sund, director of marketing and events for the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, called her a role model with a large voice for citizens.

“Up until her last days she knew she wasn’t done,” Sund said. “Her regret was that she felt she could do more with her life.”

Born and raised in Mercer, about a 20-minute drive southwest of Skowhegan, Dubay was passionate about golfing, hunting and fishing, as well as being devoted to the community. Sund said she volunteered for anything she thought would help people.

“She was someone to look up to, an incredible person admired by so many friends,” Sund said.

Rick Fournier, chair of the Bangor City Council, said Dubay would ask smart and tough questions during meetings.

“She brought with her a presence, a can-do attitude and a great smile that would light up the room,” he said.

Fellow Bangor City Councilor Dan Tremble said Dubay served on many boards and committees, including as chair of the board at Penquis community action agency, chair of the governmental affairs committee at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and a board member for the University of Maine Alumni Association.

Dubay spent seven years working on various committees and the governing board of Penquis, said Kara Hay, president and CEO of the nonprofit. 

“She was the first to jump in to lend a hand during events aimed at helping the community, from answering telethon phone calls to loading turkeys on a cold November morning,” Hay said. “Her compassion and empathy for others were ever present and were demonstrated in all the ways she gave to our community and in how she lived her life.”

Tremble said she touched a lot of people’s lives. 

“She’s remained positive even with what she was facing,” he said. “It’s still so hard to believe it happened so fast.”

Jonathan Sprague, who was elected to City Council in 2020 along with Dubay, agreed.

“Even when you know that this is coming, it does not take away the sting or the enormous sadness,” he said. “Sarah was a wonderful person and our loss of her presence will, in so many ways, diminish our community and our council, but mostly leave a hole in the hearts of all who loved her.”

In an online pitch to voters before becoming a city councilor, Dubay wrote, “I was raised on a dirt road in a small town that’s barely a map dot in the Maine Gazetteer. I learned very quickly from my neighbors (because in a town of 400 everyone is your neighbor!), when good people come together, great possibilities emerge, and awesome things happen.”

Dubay graduated from the University of Maine and most recently worked as a business development officer at First National Bank. She was one year into her three-year term as a Bangor city councilor. It’s unclear how or when her seat on the board, which expires in 2023, will be filled.

She is survived by her husband, Jeff. Sund said there would be no funeral, but a celebration of life would be held at a time to be determined.

Lori Valigra, investigative reporter for the environment, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...