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Donn Fendler, once a boy ‘Lost on a Mountain in Maine,’ dies at 90

Donn Fendler reflects on the 75th anniversary of his being "Lost on a Mountain in Maine" in July 2014 at his camp in Newport. (Ashley L. Conti | BDN)

(BDN) -- Donn Fendler, the man who famously survived more than a week while lost on Mount Katahdin in 1939, died Sunday at age 90, a director making a movie about Fendler announced on social media.

It would be hard to grow up in Maine in the last 75 years and not know his story. At age 12, he was separated from his family near the summit of Katahdin during a storm. He was the subject of hundreds of searches over the next week, becoming national news, and eventually some began to assume he’d never be found alive.

Nine days after he disappeared, however, he found a hunting camp 35 miles from where he was last seen. How he survived during those nine days was recounted in the novel ‘Lost on a Mountain in Maine.’

“Donn was such a loving and caring person,” Ryan Cook, who was working on turning Fendler’s story into a feature film, said in a video posted to Facebook around midnight Sunday. “Donn Fendler’s legacy will live on forever in the state of Maine.”

Reports of Fendler’s disappearance gripped the nation back in 1939.

The book was a constant conversation-starter, and generations of schoolchildren read it. Today, many schools teach “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” as part of their fourth-grade Maine studies curriculum, Fendler told the BDN in 2014

He told the BDN in 2014 he never thought of dying when he lost in the Maine woods. But he recognizes that dying is part of life.

“When I die, my ashes are going over Mount Katahdin,” Fendler said in 2014. “My brother said he’d fly or get someone to fly … Yup, they’re going to put me in a bean can.”

This story will be updated.

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