PORTLAND — Robert Norman LePage , 91, passed on peacefully the early evening of Thursday, Sept. 13. He was born in Auburn, the cherished only child of Laure L. (Saucier) LePage and Albert E. LePage of Lewiston. They lived in close proximity to a wonderful network of family and friends.
His uncles Rolland, Girard and Roger Saucier treated him as their youngest brother. He spoke fondly of many adventures together. They were some of his closest mentors in life.
He was given the gift of speaking two languages, first French and then English, when he entered school. He mastered both languages with eloquence and appreciated the poetry, nuances and beauties of each.
Robert spent his youth in Lewiston and became a lover of all sports and outdoor activities. He spoke with enthusiasm how much he enjoyed the summer camps at Dry Mills and Camp Gregory where he gained many lifelong friendships.
He graduated from Lewiston High school in 1945. He loved the Blue Devils, for which he played quarterback for the football squad, competed in freestyle swimming, the winter sport ski team, basketball, hockey and baseball shortstop and centerfield.
Right after high school (June 1945), he proudly served in the U.S. Navy, with deployment on the USS YMS53 Minesweeper, which took him to Shanghai, China, and the Straights of Formosa. He received Honor Man awards in his division and became gunners mate.
In 1946, he enrolled in the University of Maine at Orono pre-med program. During his four years, he adjusted his focus as he found aptitude in the sciences and realized he enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He achieved his UMO degree in 1952. While at Orono, in addition to his studies, he continued his passion for sports, enjoying success with the football and tennis teams. In 1951, he and his teammates were all-state and Yankee Conference tennis champions. He spoke proudly of his wonderful “brothers” of Theta Chi fraternity.
Postgraduation, he taught high school sciences and coached basketball and baseball in Clinton, Maine. The next year, he was offered a position with Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. There, he continued his teaching and coaching career, this time with the skiing and tennis teams.
In 1952, while on a double date, he met his true Love, Elsie Burgess, who was a graduate of school rival Edward Little High School in Auburn. As he has told the story, she really “swept him off his feet.” They shared a love for music and dancing, sports, travel and an amazing, unwavering devotion to family. They celebrated their marriage in 1953 in Lewiston, and enjoyed a renewal of vows ceremony at their 50th anniversary.
They lived in Ellsworth before moving to Bath in 1956, where they raised their family and became part of a strong community. Robert enjoyed a successful Morse High School career, teaching chemistry, biology, math and history to generations of families over the years. He was the “Master of the Slide Rule,” and loved to see his students progress to graduation and on to successes in their community. In addition to classroom teaching, he continued mentoring his students, imparting the love of well-played sports. He loved to coach football, swimming and baseball, nurtured many teams to success and, most of all, imparted the importance of good sportsmanship. He became a basketball official in Maine and New Hampshire for high school and college games. He served as president of the officials’ association in 1970.
When the school year completed, in lieu of vacation, he spent 20 summers as waterfront director at Camp Zakelo in Harrison, and later director of lifeguards in Wells and Drake’s Island for 14 years from 1972.
He enjoyed a very active life, including a love of horseback riding, training and teaching and all winter and summer sports especially snow skiing, jumping and slalom waterskiing.
He was an avid tennis player and could regularly be seen enjoying a lively match of singles or doubles. He continued his love for tennis, achieved many wins over the years and played well into his 80s. Remarkably, he was still imparting some tips on “how to” perform a good backhand swing in recent conversation.
Robert and Elsie cherished their family and dedicated their time to cheering on their two children and all of their six grandchildren. If there was an event, from early music and stage performances to sporting events (high school and college, including commencements), you could be assured they would be there in the appropriate team and school colors!
When it was time to downsize their home, Robert and Elsie moved to Portland to Birchwoods at Canco Assisted Living Community, and enjoyed the new community together. In 2016, they were honored and named queen and king of the Birchwood prom.
Robert continued his residence there after Elsie’s passing in August 2017.
The family of Robert and Elsie thanks all the Birchwood staff for their amazing dedication, caring support and kindness.
Robert is survived by his two children: daughter, Janet LePage Beecher, and her husband, Bruce R. Beecher, of Scarborough; and son, Michel J. LePage, and his wife, Margaret (Coughlin) LePage, of Cumberland; grandchildren Page Beecher and his wife, Ashley Beecher, of Scarborough; Christine Beecher Roberts and her husband, Gareth Roberts, of Westbrook; Burgess, Catherine and James LePage of Denver, Colo.; and Liza LePage and her husband, Adam Normann, of Portland.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to Morse High School, 826 High St., Bath, ME 04530, for the boys’ and girls’ swim teams, Attn: AD Nate Priest.
A celebration of life is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Albert & Burpee Funeral Home, 253 Pine St., Lewiston, ME 04240, with the reception starting at 4 p.m. and formal remarks to be made at 5 p.m.
Condolences and a video tribute may be accessed online at www.albert-burpee.com.
Robert Norman LePage