(Courtesy Lynda Clancy / VillageSoup)

CAMDEN - Longtime Camden attorney Terry Calderwood is closing his books in the law library at Gibbons and Calderwood on Washington Street and heading for Tennessee. With him, he will take decades of experience mitigating municipal wrangling, courtroom drama, and debating before the Maine Supreme Court.

And as keeper of many tales, he will take with him secrets, few of which will ever resurface, unless they wind up ever so veiled in one of his books.

Because Calderwood, who knows this community inside and out, just might have a novel or two up his sleeve. He is due to retire at the end of December, and, of course, has plans, like traveling to Europe and South America.

"And like everybody else, I'm going to write a book," said the lawyer, who at one time entertained the idea of becoming a minister. A Methodist, he even went off to Boston University to study theology. That all changed, however, when he got a taste of law. Then he changed course, after a stint in the U.S. Army and the Vietnam War, to pursue a law degree at Duke University.

That is where he met his wife, Susan Calderwood, who was attending medical school. She was an internist at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and is now an anesthesiologist and professional at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

After earning their degrees, the Calderwoods came to Camden 36 years ago, Terry returning to the hometown where he grew up, graduating from Camden High School in 1967. Susan came with him, and together they raised two children: Charles is now earning a Ph.D. in industrial psychology at Georgia Tech and Matthew is studying linguistics at Vanderbilt.

Terry Calderwood, along with Paul Gibbons, worked for attorneys Cliff O'Rourke and Mark Ingraham. They had built the Washington Street law office, and O'Rourke, Camden's town attorney, retired in 1978, followed by Ingraham in 1986. Gibbons and Calderwood purchased the firm, and the two have carried it forward to 2010, acquiring a string of towns as clients.

In 2003, Calderwood retired as Camden's town attorney, but kept on a few smaller towns, such as Lincolnville. That town is now considering from a list of 12 applicants, who will next be its counselor.

Diane Bacon, who now works at the Lincolnville Town Office, previously worked for Calderwood at the law office.

"Terry is wonderful attorney and great person and boss," she said. "I wish him lots of happiness in his retirement.

Lincolnville Town Administrator David Kinney said that Calderwood has served his town with distinction for the past 30 years, and even predates the arrival of longtime town employee Doris Weed.

"His knowledge of the law of Lincolnville has served our town well, and he has been an invaluable resource," said Kinney.

Camden Select Board member John French agreed: "Terry kept us out of trouble and was a great attorney for the town. He was very conservative, and made sure both sides were handled respectfully. We'll miss him."

Calderwood, who has liked municipal law for all these decades, its political intrigues and eventual resolutions, also has appreciated business, real estate and probate law. And he really likes litigation, the trial work that compels the best debaters to step into a highly controlled yet intellectually competitive arena.

"I enjoyed the competition," he said. "It is like a chess match."

He is proud of the number of cases that Gibbons and Calderwood argued in the Maine Law Court -- 45, and 25 of them under Calderwood's direction.

"The Law Court [also known as Maine's Supreme Court] is intriguing because it creates precedent," he said. "It affects the law."

Before the seven justices on that court, the Socratic method becomes the tool for deriving truth.

"You have to think on your feet," said Calderwood.

Now Calderwood is slowly divesting himself of clients and cases, anticipating quieter days.

"Retirement is such a complicated enterprise," he acknowledges, and said there are multiple reasons, some personal, for flipping his closed sign; yet, there are the tangible benefits -- travel, which he has always loved. The Calderwoods have sold their Camden home, but his favorite place in the world is this area, and he will return on occasion to do those things he has always loved, like snowshoeing in the dead of January in the Camden Hills.

"I have always been affected by the natural beauty of Camden," said the native son.

And that novel he harbors is sited in Camden, based on a case he had years ago. He won't talk about it -- to the press, at any rate -- but it is secured in his mind.

In his retirement, Calderwood joins longtime Police Chief Phil Roberts, who is leaving his post at the end of December, and former town planner Jeff Nims, who recently retired from his position at the Camden Town Office. Nims is also writing a book, Calderwood knows.

"We'll see who gets to press first," he laughs, the competitive town attorney versus the methodical town planner.

Their public awaits.