Tony McLaughlin, the former longtime director of admissions at the University of Maine at Farmington, died Saturday. He was 76.
McLaughlin died at his home in Wilton following a recent diagnosis of bladder cancer, his wife, Carolyn McLaughlin, said Monday.
“He was so humble,” she said. “When people asked him where he worked, he never admitted to being the director. He was just very humble. He considered it his job and didn’t think about any special title. He loved working with students and their parents. He loved every day he went to work.”
A graduate of Aroostook State College, Gorham State Teachers College and the University of Maine, J. Anthony McLaughlin taught at Houlton High School and was an admissions counselor at Ricker College and director of admissions at the University of Maine at Presque Isle before becoming admissions director at UMF on April 1, 1972. He held the post until 1999.
Ronald Milliken, the current UMF director of financial aid, was admitted to UMF as a student by McLaughlin and later hired by him to work in the admissions office.
“He held leadership positions, but he was never one to tell you that if you didn’t know,” Milliken said. “He didn’t advertise his credentials and he didn’t have to. He was always good with people.”
In addition to his work in college admissions and access, McLaughlin also worked with the Care and Share Food Closet in Farmington and was a supporter of local youth sports, his wife said. He was an avid fan of the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox and a collector of sports memorabilia.
“He was never one to run for school board or do those kind of community things, but he was always in the background doing whatever he could,” Carolyn McLaughlin said.
After retirement, McLaughlin continued his work at the MELMAC Education Foundation, where he helped identify programming that would impact college aspirations and helped schools implement programming.
“That was his passion,” said Wendy Ault, executive director of MELMAC, who also worked under McLaughlin for 17 years as associate director of admissions at UMF. “He worked hard to make sure students knew education after high school was important, but it didn’t have to be a two- or four-year college. There were other pieces too.”
In addition to his wife, McLaughlin is survived by a sister, Kay; six children; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“For UMF, his influence is really legendary,” Milliken said. “He was always out there working with guidance counselors, high school principals and young people. He just genuinely had an interest in people, and in young people in particular. I think it’s important for young people to see the faith adults have in them and their capabilities, and Tony exemplified that faith in others.”