Quiet, gentle, devoted to his family and church, 78-yearold Raymond Fowler appears to be a man content to spend his retirement years tending to the vegetable and flower gardens that surround his home.
But for more than six decades Fowler has investigated claims of Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings and alien encounters from all over the world and, on Saturday, Sept. 1, Fowler will be inducted into the Exeter (N.H.) UFO Festival Hall of Fame.
“I never really expected this, but it has been a long time,” he said.
For Fowler the story really began in summer 1947. He was a teenager in Danvers, Mass. and wanted to earn some extra money to help his family.
“We had come through the Depression and the war and everybody helped out,” Fowler said as he looked back some 65 years and quietly recalled a time when he was working at a farm in Danvers, Mass.
“We were weeding these huge long rows – I think it was parsnips,” he said. “The farmer set a large bottle of water at the end of the rows and I rushed up ahead to get a drink.”
From his position at the end of the field Fowler saw what he assumed was a man parachuting toward the ground. Danvers is not that far from Hanscom Airfield and he thought it had something to do with the military in the area.
But as the object got closer, “there were no parachute shrouds or guy,” Fowler said.
“It was a disc-shaped object and it came along and just stopped,” Fowler said. “Meanwhile, I yelled to the people behind me to look, but in a typical falling leaf motion, it ducked behind a stand of trees.”
Fowler was hooked. From that time on, he became fascinated with the subject of unidentified flying objects and alien encounters. He collected whatever reading material he could on the subject and learned as much as he could about close encounters and the heavens above.
“At the time, newspapers and radios were full of the stuff,” he said.
After high school, Fowler served in the Air Force and, during his enlistment, he continued to talk about his experiences and quietly investigated other claims.
Fowler said several of his fellow airmen told him stories of strange photos that came from gun cameras and aircraft from around the world.
After spending four years in the service and graduating from Gordon College, Fowler continued to investigate as he worked for GTE Government Systems for 25 years as both a task manager and senior planner for the Minuteman Missile program. Eventually, because of his thorough investigative background, he became the chief investigator for the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena.
After 25 years at GTE, Fowler had the opportunity to retire early and jumped at the chance.
“I wanted to teach, write and continue the investigations,” he said. “Many of my colleagues didn’t understand, but I wanted to continue.”
Fowler was 52 years old at the time and spent the next 20 years doing what he loved. Not surprisingly, he has had a lifelong interest in astronomy and taught adult education classes in both Massachusetts and Maine. He even helped build and run Woodside Planetarium in Wenham, Mass.
“The planetarium was up and running for 30 years,” Fowler said. “But eventually it was closed and the equipment was sold.”
Shortly after the planetarium closed in 2000, he and his wife Margaret moved to Kennebunk.
Fowler has written numerous articles for both magazines and newspapers and, during his so-called retirement years, wrote 11 different books that document alien encounters on the planet and with the people who live here.
In 1979, his nonfiction book, “The Andreasson Affair,” made it to the New York Times’ bestseller list. One of his most recent books, “The Allagash Abductions,” documents a close encounter here in the state of Maine.
For all of these accomplishments and more, Fowler will be honored on Sept. 1, but in a fashion typical of his lifelong investigations, he is shying away from the limelight and does not plan to attend the event. He did say the event is worthwhile, but he will watch from afar. Many of the people he trained and interviewed over the years will be there and he will learn of the event through them.
“I really have been retired for many years and, besides, it’s not about me,” he said.