Remembering Ralph Titcomb


Ralph Malcolm Titcomb

Founder of Titcomb's Bookshop

January 15, 1927 - April 26, 2020

Ralph Titcomb was born in Houlton, Maine during a blizzard on January 15, 1927 to Orie Nevers Titcomb and Gladys Brown Titcomb. He grew up on a potato farm in Littleton, Aroostook County, Maine. As a child, Ralph attended a one-room schoolhouse, and had fond memories of riding to class through the snow in a horse-drawn sled with a wood stove for heat.
Ralph left high school early to join the U.S. Merchant Marine at the end of World War II and served as a radio operator on a Liberty Ship. He later served in the US Army during the Korean War and attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Ralph attended the University of Maine, which held a special place in his heart. He earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and met the love of his life, Nancy Ericksen, on a blind date at a university football game. Newly married, Ralph and Nancy began their family on campus, bringing the first of their eight children home to their student apartment. After graduating, Ralph began a career in nuclear engineering, a new industry at the time. He worked first for General Electric at the Knolls Atomic Power Lab in Niskayuna, New York and went on to work on the installation of the nuclear reactor for the submarine, USS Narwhal, at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. When Ralph’s job with GE brought him to work at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth in 1969, he, his wife, and children settled into their home in East Sandwich, Massachusetts. 

Ralph discovered a love for antiquarian books after his children unearthed a collection of old papers and books tucked away in the barn when they were living in Canterbury, Connecticut. This discovery led to the opening (in their spare time) of a small bookstore adjacent to their home fifty two years ago. Ralph was a well-respected and beloved dealer of antiquarian books, and traveled around the country to seek them out and meet all kinds of interesting people. 

Ralph (left) with a fellow book dealer.
The bookstore became Ralph and Nancy’s full-time endeavor after Ralph’s retirement from his career in engineering. His sons, Ted and Paul, along with other members of the family and some friends, crafted the three story barn that houses the bookshop as it is today as well as a life-size statue of a colonial man. In recent years, Ralph
could be found sitting in a chair outside, greeting customers with his radiant smile and striking up conversations, his face lighting up with any mention of the state of Maine. 

Ralph (left) and "the crew."

Ralph's love for books and history is the foundation of Titcomb's Bookshop, and it permeates through the store to this day. 

Ralph's full obituary can be read here on the Nickerson-Bourne Funeral Home's website.