JAY — About 200 people came to pay their respects to Jay police, fire Chief Larry White Sr. and celebrate his life Sunday at Spruce Mountain High School.
White, 61, of Jay lost his nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5. He was fighting it all the way.
He had served as a police officer for 32 years and had been a member of the Jay Police Department since 1987. He worked his way up through the ranks to become chief in 2002.
He took on the additional position of fire chief in 2010. In that position, he was credited with helping to move a divided department forward.
White received one last ride through town Sunday, passing under the firetruck arch in front of the Jay Elementary School on Route 4 and up past the middle school to the high school.
A law enforcement and firefighter honor guard led White’s family into the school gym to celebrate White’s life, as Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. played the bagpipes.
A contingent of local, county, state and federal law enforcers, firefighters and emergency medical service providers followed to pay tribute to White.
Jay acting police Chief Richard Caton IV told those gathered that when he was fresh out of college, he approached White to see if he could get a job in communications as a dispatcher. White had told Caton he would think about hiring him.
Caton said he waited for months, but the call didn’t come. Just after Caton had finished a 100-hour course required of a reserve police officer, White left a message for him. They met and Caton was hired as a police officer.
Caton said that during his service under White, he found White to be a firm and compassionate leader who got things done.
Caton recalled how he got a chuckle whenever someone would bring food to the station — White would say that the food wasn’t on his diet but he would still try it, anyway.
It came with a warning not to tell his wife, Janice, Caton added as people laughed.
White will be sadly missed, Caton said.
“Chief Larry White, your duty has been completed,” Caton said as he concluded his remarks. “You can rest easy now. We, your police department, will take it from here.”
“Chief Larry White was an incredible man,” Cpl. Jeffrey Fournier said.
The two worked the same shift in their early days as patrolmen — White in Livermore Falls, Fournier in Jay.
“We relied heavily on each other for backup,” Fournier said.
White came to Jay and the two grew closer through the years. White first served as patrolman, then as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, a detective, patrol sergeant and chief.
Fournier credited White for shaping the Jay Police Department into what it is today. He also shared a little about White’s days with cancer and the pain that he had endured.
“He suffered immensely from cancer,” he said.
White had a strong will to stay at home and see his children and grandchildren. He also wished to see his granddaughter’s wedding. While he was unable to attend the ceremony, he was able to see it online via Skype — one day before he died.
Fournier described White as determined, strong-willed, straightforward, caring honest, respectful and dedicated.
Nichols met White when he began covering Franklin County as a Maine State Police trooper. When Nichols became sheriff, the two would often talk.
Nichols said he appreciated White’s friendship, wisdom and advice.
White had courage throughout his battle with cancer and put up a fight, right to the end.
Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said she was grateful White was able to attend the Christmas tree dedication to him on Sept. 22. He got to see how loved he was, she said.
White has left his fingerprints all over the town of Jay, and people will continue to see them, she said, from the children he taught to stay away from drugs and be safe to the law enforcers he helped educate, she said.
“We will miss you, Larry,” LaFreniere said. “Thank you for all you have done for the town of Jay.”