JAY — Law enforcement officers, firefighters, friends, family and community members mourned the loss of Jay police and fire Chief Larry White Sr., who died Sunday morning.
White of Jay has been on medical leave since February to undergo cancer treatment after he was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer in late January. He was 61 years old at that time.
White had been in law enforcement for 32 years as of February. He grew up in Lewiston and worked at several police departments Livermore Falls, Lewiston, Sabattus and the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department in Auburn.
He began his police duties in Jay in 1987 and worked himself up through the ranks to become police chief in 2002 and fire chief in 2010.
White was shocked when he learned he had cancer and vowed from the beginning he was going to fight it. It turned his life upside down, he said then.
He did that to the end, even telling those gathered on Sept. 22 during a Christmas tree planting in his honor that he hadn’t give up the fight.
Jay acting police Chief Richard Caton IV said he was at a loss of words on Sunday.
“Larry was a hard-working and dedicated person,” he said. “Larry was also a great friend and boss to many; he was dedicated to his community and the Jay Police Department. Larry will be missed by many.”
White waged his fight publicly on Facebook and kept his friends and others informed on his struggle. Dozens of people posted on a regular basis, supporting him and offering prayers for him to get better.
“Law enforcement in Franklin County have lost a respected professional who has been instrumental in the development of several police careers,” Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said. “Personally, I have lost a friend and a mentor. The past several months have been a display of courage and determination on the part of Larry, (his wife) Janice and their children. He will be missed.”
White was very involved in keeping children safe in Jay and then those from Livermore and Livermore Falls when the two school systems merged on July 1, 2011.
He taught children in his earlier years how to say “no to drugs” and also went to the Jay Elementary School with his sidekick, the late Bob Sanders, to warn children of the dangers on Halloween and prepared them to be safe.
In his later years, he sent his officers in to the schools to do the same and added anti-bullying to the programs, among other issues.
When he became fire chief of the Jay Fire Rescue Department, firefighters accepted his leadership, acting fire Chief Mike Booker said.
“He did a great job and we couldn’t ask any more from him,” he said. “We did lose a great leader, a great friend, and he is going to be missed.”
Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere had to stop talking during the dedication of the Christmas tree two weeks ago to wipe tears from her eyes. White and others also brushed the tears away.
The Fat Albert blue spruce tree is planted on the grassy part of the parking lot in front of the Jay Police Station. Though it is small now, LaFreniere told those gathered, it will grow to become mighty.
“Its roots will grow deep into our community and will become a part of our future traditions. It will become part of our community and remind us of Larry and his constant dedication to the town of Jay,” she said.
“The town of Jay and the community have lost a very special person today,” LaFreniere said Sunday. “Larry worked for Jay for over 25 years. He was our chief, our co-worker and our friend. He has touched so many lives and has left his mark on this town. His service and his dedication will not be forgotten and he will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to his family.”