Linda Bean, granddaughter of retailer LL Bean and GOP activist, dies at 82

FILE - Linda Bean, of Linda Beans Maine Lobster, talks to reporters outside the Cabinet Room after a meeting with Maine Gov. Paul LePage at the State House in Augusta. (Photo by Joe Phelan/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Linda L. Bean, a granddaughter of famed outdoor retailer L.L. Bean who also went on to become an entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist with the Republican Party, has died. She was 82.

Bean died on Saturday, according to her business manager, Veronika Carlson. The cause of death was not shared. 

"Linda was known for her amazing work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit as well as her pride and dedication to her home state of Maine and L.L.Bean, the company her grandfather founded," the statement given to the Associated Press said. "Our hearts go out to her family and friends."

Bean's grandfather, Leon Leonwood Bean, founded the retail company of clothing and outdoor recreation equipment in 1912. L.L. Bean grew through its popular catalog, offering durable products such as rubber-bottomed boots that came with a lifetime guarantee.

Linda Bean’s work in Maine

Linda Bean served on L.L. Bean company’s board for nearly half a century. She also bought lobster dealerships, founded the Perfect Maine Lobster brand in 2007, and owned general stores, inns and vacation rentals on Maine's central coast, where she lived in Port Clyde.

She helped lead the effort to have Maine's lobster industry certified as sustainable in 2013 by a London-based nonprofit, the Marine Stewardship Council — a certification that was later pulled in 2022 over concern about harm to whales.

Her philanthropic efforts included supporting LifeFlight of Maine medical helicopters and the Maine Botanical Gardens at Boothbay, as well as promoting the life of early 20th century illustrator and artist N.C. Wyeth, the father of the famous painter Andrew Wyeth, and preserving the family's properties.

"Linda Bean loved the State of Maine. Its coastal communities, islands, and art, particularly by the Wyeths, had a special place in her heart," Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a written statement Sunday. "Linda also was an astute businesswoman who promoted Maine lobster through her restaurants. Many a time while waiting for my plane in Portland, I had a cup of her famous lobster stew at her airport restaurant."

Bean was also a big donor to Republican causes and twice campaigned unsuccessfully for Congress, in 1988 and 1992. She ran as an opponent of abortion rights, gay rights legislation and gun control, and she believed in cutting taxes to spur the economy.

She also supported efforts to repeal a Maine law outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and she urged the Department of Defense to overturn Obama-era policies allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military.

Linda Bean’s support for Trump

In 2017, the Federal Election Commission said Bean made excessive contributions to a political action committee she bankrolled to support Donald Trump's presidential campaign. 

That prompted some liberal groups to call for a boycott of L.L. Bean — which she described as harassment by "a small kernel of hardcore bullies out on the left coast, West Coast, in California, trying to control what we do, what we buy, what we sell in Maine."

Trump came to her defense, urging his supporters to buy the company's products.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, also shared a statement about their "mutual love" for the state. 

"While her politics did not align with mine, Linda and I found common ground in our mutual love of our home state, of the coast of Maine and our working waterfronts, of Maine inspired art and of the perfect Maine lobster roll," Mills said in a written statement. "I enjoyed her company and admired her business acumen. On behalf of the people of Maine, I extend deep condolences to Linda’s family and loved ones and to the entire L.L.Bean community."

No information about survivors was immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.