Joseph Jack was only about 5-foot-6, but his “loud, funny, and outgoing” personality gave him a larger presence, his niece recalled.
Joseph Jack of Carmel died on Friday, Nov. 3. His loved ones remember him as a skilled and energetic storyteller who loved doing anything outdoors, especially fishing. Credit: Courtesy of Peter Jack

A 67-year-old man who died in a Carmel house fire Friday is remembered by loved ones as an emphatic storyteller with a passion for the outdoors. 

Joseph Jack died alongside his chocolate Lab, Coco, when fire engulfed his home on Haskell Road on Friday. He was home alone when the fire began, and the cause of the fire is still unknown, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss. 

Though Jack was only about 5-foot-6, his “loud, funny, and outgoing” personality made up for his shorter stature, said Rachel Walker, Jack’s niece.

“He loved to laugh and wanted to be the center of attention,” Walker said. 

“He would talk to anybody, and if he met you once, he’d remember you,” said Debora Barrrett, Jack’s wife of nine years. 

The couple met when Barrett worked as a Spectrum field technician and paid a service call to Jack’s home. For their first date, Jack took Barrett fishing and cooked chicken over an open fire, she said. 

“All I could think at the time was, ‘If the world ends, I’m sticking with him,’” Barrett said.  

Jack loved doing anything outdoors, Walker said, but he especially loved fly fishing and had a talent for tying fishing flies. 

Though Jack was a Maine Guide for roughly 30 years and a Vietnam War veteran, Barrett said he was most proud of his son, Peter Jack, who lives in Massachusetts and is a martial arts instructor. 

“He was my biggest and most vocal supporter,” Jack, 27, said. “He still had pictures in his wallet of me from when I was 6 or 7.” 

Jack said his father would answer the phone every time he called, no matter what he was doing. At the end of each call, Jack said his father would rather tell him to “Go out and save the world.” 

“He started saying it randomly one day, but it really stuck with me,” Jack said. “He knew I work with kids with special needs and teach them karate, and he wanted me to share my passions with others. I think he really believed I was doing my part.” 

Jack also loved Christmas, and each Thanksgiving, he would set up the family’s Christmas village with his son. 

“It was beautiful,” Barrett said. “They’d go out and buy new pieces for it constantly.” 

Jack said his father loved to host and share his passion for the outdoors with others. This would often manifest in holding outdoor cookouts for family and friends. He was known for cooking just about every kind of meat or fish over a campfire, but Jack said his father’s speciality was either a lobster bake, or something he called “trash can turkey.” 

“It’s turkey slow-cooked outside over a fire, inside a beer keg that has been cut in half,” Jack said. “I don’t know how he figured it out, it was the best turkey I’ve ever had.” 

Regardless of where he was or who he was with, Jack said his father loved to “be a host” and ensure everyone was smiling and having a good time. He often did this by telling stories to whomever would listen, which were likely “greatly exaggerated, but hilarious,” he said. 

“He talked to strangers like he’d known them for his entire life,” Jack said. “I think I heard every one of his stories about 70 times, but every time he told it was like the first time.”

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...