Neil Rolde, author, publisher, longtime Maine legislator and seasonal visitor to the Lagoon for more than 60 years, died May 15 in York, Me., after a brief illness. Mr. Rolde, 85, was credited with having twice in his legislative career saved the Portsmouth, N.H. Naval Shipyard, a major employer of Maine residents, from being shut down. In announcing his death, the Portsmouth Herald headline read: We Need More People Like Him.

He was born in Brookline on June 25, 1931, a son of the late L. Robert and Lillian (Lewis) Rolde. He was a graduate of Phillip’s Academy in Andover in 1949, Yale University in 1953, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1954. He began coming to the Oak Bluffs side of the Lagoon in his college days to visit his aunt, the late Serena Lewis, who had a cottage there. He soon interested his parents in buying the Lagoon home where the Rolde family has summered ever since. Mr. Rolde delighted in snorkeling in Lagoon waters and was an inveterate seeker of clams. In younger days, he enjoyed Gay Head surfing. A neighbor on the other side of the Lagoon was the late composer Leonard Bernstein, whose brother Burt, a writer for The New Yorker, had been a Columbia classmate of Mr. Rolde and remained a lifelong friend.

After a brief foray into screenplay writing, both in New York and California, Mr. Rolde returned to Massachusetts and lived briefly in Boston before moving to Maine in the 1960s. He was soon hired as an assistant to Gov. Ken Curtis. He remained in that post for six years. Finding that politics appealed to him, he ran as a Democratic candidate for a house seat in York, where he lived. He was elected, and continued to be, for the next 16 years, serving as house majority leader from 1975 to 1977. In 1990 he ran on a liberal platform for the U.S. Senate, advocating, among for single-payer, universal health care for all, among other things. He lost and left politics, but continued a life of public service on the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, the Maine Arts and Humanities Commission and at the University of Maine.

He was also among the founders of Tilbury House, a publishing company specializing in Maine books. He himself was the author of 18 books, including a history of Maine’s Native American population, Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future, the Story of Maine Indians. His So You Think You Know Maine was, for a time, turned into a TV game show program. In recent years, he had become particularly interested in recording the plight of European Jews seeking refuge in the United States and Palestine before and during World War II. He was at work on a trilogy about the subject at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Carlotta (Florsheim) Rolde, and four daughters, Claudia Sanchez of San Clemente, Calif., Andrea Rolde of Chico, Calif., Danielle Annis of Hampton Falls, N.H.; and Nicolette Rolde of Eliot, Me, and eight grandchildren.

A celebration of his life was held in York.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the York City Shelter Program, 147 Shaker Hill Road, Alfred, ME 04002.