Class of 1981 Winter 2020 Class Note

Barb Brown Dalton

We’ll start off with news items that are indicators of our age!  Honors and awards seem to be popping up more often, along with retirement announcements. The mailbag did not disappoint this time around!


Congrats to Marie Warner on her induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame this past August. Marie became a Black Bear after graduating from Thornton Academy in Saco. Following her graduation from Maine, she attended the University of Albany, where she earned a master’s degree and was named head coach of the basketball team there at age 23. After that, she taught physical education and coached at Lansingburgh High School in Troy, NY. In 2010, she returned to Maine and currently teaches PE at Falmouth High School, where she also coached basketball until 2016. She continues to play basketball in the Maine Senior Women’s Basketball program.


Jeff Denman is coauthor of Greene and Cornwallis in the Carolinas: The Pivotal Struggle in the American Revolution, 1780-1781. The book draws extensively on their letters and “follows the campaigns of General Nathaniel Greene and Lord Charles Cornwallis as they fought across the Carolinas, offering a compelling look at their leadership.”


Husson University awarded Larry Shaw an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree at their commencement last May, in recognition of his leadership abilities, his dedication to the people of northern Maine, and his devotion to ensuring his community’s financial security. Larry has served as president and CEO of MMG Insurance in Presque Isle since 1995 and started his career there in 1982.


After a military career that spanned more than three decades, Brig. Gen. Scott Young retired last year as commander of the Maine Air National Guard. Scott joined the Maine Air National Guard in 1985 and was awarded the Legion of Merit for his leadership upon his retirement. He now works as a civilian as deputy commissioner for the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.


And another retirement to report, as Lisa Johnson Kane stepped down last year after an impressive 30-year career with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Lisa served as natural science educator for the department, a newly created position in 1989, when she was hired. She essentially wrote her own job description and worked to raise awareness of fish and wildlife management and conservation efforts in Maine. She was instrumental in the growth of the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray and conducted workshops for more than 15,000 educators over the years, showing them how wildlife-related themes could be used in their curriculums. Congrats, Lisa, on a job well done!  Your efforts will have an impact for years to come.


On a terribly sad note, we lost a beloved classmate in December of 2018, Lee Blumenstock LeRoy of Portland. Lee left this life unexpectedly and leaves her husband, Bill LeRoy; son, Chris; and his wife, Ashley; and daughter, Jami. She was an incredibly gifted teacher who loved her work and made a lasting impact on her students, the community and all those with whom she came in contact.


Although I knew of Lee while a student at Maine, I wasn’t a close acquaintance.  A chance meeting with our football team quarterback, John Tursky, at Pat’s Pizza in Orono, back in September, and I began to learn more about Lee’s life after college. Somehow, I recognized John as he walked by me.  I figure it had been more than 25 years since I had last seen him but decided to speak up as we stood at the cash register to pay for our lunches. John and his wife (who live in NJ) were headed to Portland, after spending a few days in Bar Harbor for a late summer vacation. They couldn’t pass through Bangor without a detour up 95 to Orono for a pizza! He told me about this wonderful gathering of some of the “Bicknell Bears” to honor the memory of Lee and celebrate her life with family and friends on September 21st at the Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland.  In addition to sharing memories of their days at UMaine with their football teammates, they would be honoring Lee’s legacy with donations to the Lee LeRoy Memorial Scholarship Fund, established at Windham High School.  Lee had worked for many years at Windham Middle School and was passionate about her job and making sure her students had the necessary skills to make good decisions, live a healthy lifestyle, and be successful in life. The scholarship is a fitting tribute.


After returning to New Jersey, John connected me with Ray Ferretti, who helped to organize the event. Ray lives in New York state and is VP of Marketing and Brand Development for Marietta Hospitality. Ray said they wanted a celebration that “would make Lee smile … and we did a good job of it!” About 120 people attended and more than $4,500 has been raised to date for the scholarship. Tom Sullivan was emcee, Dr. Matt Iammatteo (“The King”) performed, and Frank Knight did a stand-up routine. There was dancing to ‘70s disco, just like the old days at UMaine. Bill, Chris and Jami LeRoy attended and enjoyed the support and love from great teammates and friends.


As I did my online research for this piece of class news, it certainly told me how much Lee was loved … and how much those UMaine friendships mean to all of us, in good times and bad. We never know what lies ahead and let’s all pledge to take more time to reconnect, visit old friends, come to Homecoming, attend a sporting event with classmates, send an email, post a birthday message on Facebook … or simply make an old-fashioned phone call. UMaine friendships last a lifetime … and beyond.


At the December 2018 Lobster Institute annual lobster and wine feast, the silent auction featured a glamping adventure in Montana sponsored by Jim ’76, ’78G and Lorna Good Rittenburg ’82G and a lobster feed in your home by Bob Bayer, emeritus director of the Lobster Institute. The glamping vacation was won by Nick Vachon and his wife, Dottie Foster Vachon ’80, and the lobster feed won by the Ritttenburgs.

Bob Bayer, his wife, Libbet, and the Vachons flew to Polebridge, MT, last fall for glamping and the lobster feed.