As a French and English literature student at Bates College, Maurice “Mo” Dube planned to become a teacher, a shaper of young minds.
Instead, he built a career as another kind of public servant: leader in the Small Business Administration, a shaper of young businesses.
“It’s a good feeling,” Dube said. “You see these successful businesses as you drive down the road, this business that’s been created. It’s fulfilling.”
Now, after four decades in public service, the Lewiston native retired this week as head of the Small Business Administration’s Maine district. The 63-year-old will take time to rest, relax and recoup.
Then, maybe, get involved again in something having to do with business. Because it’s hard to completely walk away from what he loves.
“I feel very blessed,” Dube said.
Born and raised in Lewiston, Dube was drafted into the Army as a young man. He spent two years in the service before enrolling at Bates. He’d planned to become a teacher, right up until the summer between his junior and senior years, when he won an internship through Maine Department of Labor, to work in what was then known as the unemployment office.
He loved working with the public, loved having a job that changed every day, loved working in a professional environment with people liked and respected.
“I learned a lot from these people about customer service, putting the customer first,” he said.
When a job development position within the Department of Labor opened up the following summer, he took it. That position would lead to a job with the IRS, which would lead to a position with the Small Business Administration, a federal agency that supports small businesses with loans, counseling and other assistance.
Over the next 25 years he would work in several positions within the agency in Maine, including in business development and as deputy director. He served as district director in Missouri and Boston.
Then, in 2007, “they asked me to come back home.”
A district director position opened up in Maine. He took it.
For the past five-and-a-half years, Dube has led the SBA’s Maine district. Although he hesitates to name specific businesses that make him proud, he said he has been happy to have a job that allows him to help people, help businesses and create jobs — whether they turn into multimillion-dollar companies or stay small mom-and-pop operations.
“From Tom’s of Maine to the last person that I talked to on the phone that I hopefully helped start a business they were looking to start, they’re all successes,” he said. “If you can help somebody help themselves and achieve their goals, for me one is just as fulfilling as the other.”
But as much as he has enjoyed working for the SBA, he’s been in public service of one kind or another for about 40 years. A few years ago, he began thinking about retirement. He eventually decided 2013 would be the year.
Thursday was Dube’s last day.
“He was really, really liked and respected,” said William Card, spokesman for the SBA’s Maine district. “He’s been a great mentor, a great boss, and a great public servant. We will certainly miss him.”
Dube, who lives in Lewiston, plans to spend a little while relaxing in retirement. In several months he’ll have some company. His wife, Anita, a French and Spanish teacher in RSU 73, plans to retire at the end of the school year.
Eventually, Dube would like to get involved again with business. But for the moment, he’s more focused on saying goodbye to his old job.
“It was long hours, long days and long weeks, but my God, that sense of accomplishment,” he said. “And I’m telling you, there’s wonderful people out there. I made friends, still have friends, in Missouri. I have a bunch of friends in Boston and Massachusetts. And then coming back to Maine. How much more fortunate can I be? It’s been a great ride.”