LEWISTON — A longtime surveyor and civil engineer, Vincent J. P. Leblanc was meticulous at work, hand-drawing maps years after most in the industry had gone to computer. And he was meticulous at fun, planning solo road trips into his 80s, mapping them out afterward and passing out the maps to family and friends.
"If you'd buy him a present (at Christmas), why you'd get a map," John Myrand, Leblanc's nephew, said.
Myrand is the temporary keeper of his late uncle's field books and maps ("He's got a zillion of them,") as well as Leblanc's legacy. Although Leblanc, 90, was still active and doing survey work for friends up to last fall, he entered Marshwood Center, a nursing home and assisted living center, in March. He died Friday.
Over a six-decade-plus career, much of it spent locally, Leblanc had a hand in countless buildings and projects, including Pioneer Plastics in Auburn, Five County Credit Union on Park Street in Lewiston and DeLorme's Eartha globe in Yarmouth.
In an interview last month with Susan Beane of Museum L-A for its oral history archives, Leblanc said he grew up in Lewiston in a family of four boys and two girls. His parents sent him away for high school.
"At that period of time, it was en vogue for many people in Lewiston of the French extraction to send their students to Canada," he told Beane.
Leblanc served in the Navy during World World II, earning a battle star during the Battle of Iwo Jima. His first job after graduating from the University of Maine's engineering program was with the Maine State Highway Department.
Myrand said his uncle worked in New York City, Boston and on the St. Lawrence Seaway hydro projects. In 1959, he even went to Greenland to work for the government on an early warning ballistic missile system.
When he came home to stay, Leblanc spent the bulk of his career at the Steel Service Co.
"He worked for us for many, many, many years, 40 years I think," said President Bob Roy Jr. "He had a lot of street smarts. He was old school — he would use a slide rule, never a calculator. '14.5566 . . . ' He was very exact and precise."
Roy remembered being surprised to learn not too many years ago of Leblanc taking yet another road trip and sitting for 20 hours on a bus. It was a good time, Leblanc had assured him.
"I have a copy of one of his maps," Roy said. Leblanc gave it to him saying, "If you ever want to go out West, here's where you want to go."
Myrand said his uncle was a kind man, "never had a bad word about anybody." He never married or started a family. Nephew and uncle stayed close over the years.
In the interview for Museum L-A, Myrand recounted helping his uncle on one big job in Livermore.
"He kept telling me, 'You've got to paint the steel pins,'" Myrand told Beane. "A cow kept coming up and licking the paint off."
"That cow, I'll never forget that," Leblanc said.
When Beane asked why he made maps, even of his own adventures, he told her, "Personal record, you know?"
Leblanc's funeral is Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Visiting hours are 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Pinette & Lynch Funeral Home.
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