LEWISTON — To retire, Rita Dube needed to find her replacement.
Needed was someone who could oversee a library, caterers, a performing hall with a swift rotation of events, someone capable of almost nonstop fundraising.
"When I'm writing my job description I'm thinking, 'Who the heck is going to want this job?'" said Dube, executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center at St. Mary's.
Louis Morin did.
He told bosses at Maine Audubon this summer there was just one job he'd leave for.
Dube introduced Morin to a packed La Rencontre lunch crowd at the center Friday, in French.
Morin became the 12-year-old center's second-ever director in August. He started the job this week. Dube will stay on for three months, helping him settle in.
"I don't pretend for a minute I can fill her shoes," said Morin, 46, of Freeport.
Morin's parents grew up and married in Saint-Come, Quebec, and family still lives there. He grew up in Skowhegan speaking only French until kindergarten.
"It's the same story you hear over and over again from my generation," he said. "Pressure to assimilate was pretty strong. . . . I learned English watching 'Seasame Street,' which is ironic."
Before Audubon, Morin spent seven years at Maine Public Broadcasting Corp. He shortened his first name to "Lou" for radio. He's returning, happily, to Louis.
Morin said the new role melds several passions: music, art and his own history. He plays bass guitar in several rock bands and plans to sign up for the center's language reacquisition classes.
"I've always kind of kicked myself for letting my French get rusty," Morin said.
Dube said his ability to speak French and fundraising background stood out for the hiring committee.
"We just all felt that he would fit in," she said. "It's a great venue, but if we don't have a good leader, we could lose that."
Under Dube the former church has undergone a multimillion dollar renovation to become a grand performing hall and meeting space. Last winter she announced plans to retire on Dec. 6, her 70th birthday.
Morin said his challenge for the future is reaching out to more young people. He'd like to host more contemporary musical acts, one way to introduce another generation to the center.
"I'm going to swing for the fences in terms of getting some acts in here," he said. "I want the Llyle Lovetts, the Patty Griffins of the world."
Morin plans to move to Lewiston next year. He told the 200-plus crowd, in French, "With your help, hopefully I'll be able to speak French like a real Quebecois again."