Donn Conner was born in Rye, New York back in 1926. In 1939, for some reason he was separated from his family during a storm near the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin. His disappearance set off a massive manhunt for the twelve-year-old.
He survived for 9 days without food, or proper clothing. He came upon a stream and followed it until he saw a telephone line. Following that line, he came out of the woods near Stacyville, Maine near a hunting camp thirty-five miles from the place he had gone missing. Sixteen pounds lighter, covered in insect bites and having lost most of his clothing due to the weight loss he was finally rescued.
He credited his survival as his experience as a Boy Scout in helping him to survive. He later wrote a book about his experience. Donn Conner Fendler’s book which became a Maine children’s classic outlines his harrowing experience during those nine days. After his rescue President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented him with the Army & Navy Legion of Valor’s annual medal.
For the next 70 years he would visit he was called on to recount his story. in 2014, Governor Paul LePage declared the day “Donn Fendler Day”. Sadly, he died in 2016 he was 90.