Three months after a crushing stroke, Louis Morin is rising again.

The 48-year-old former executive director of the Franco Center is walking and talking. He’s preparing to move back home to Freeport in a week or so. And soon, he’ll be driving again.

“This could have been much, much worse,” Morin said this week in a phone conversation. “My family was looking at the prospect of having to feed me through a tube for the rest of my life. In the first week or so, that was a real, legitimate worry.”

Instead, he’s working on regaining his life.

He’s trying to cope with at least $10,000 in debt that was not covered by his health insurance — leading friends to organize fundraisers next month in Yarmouth and Lewiston. The latter will be a benefit concert to be held July 19 at the Franco Center, led by Maine rockers Rustic Overtones.

And Morin is worrying about getting a new job. About three weeks into his illness — when doctors said he might spend six months or a year in recovery — the Franco Center board of directors dismissed him in a letter.


“I don’t blame them,” Morin said. “They made the decision at the time, based on how long they thought I would be out.”

The stroke was catastrophic, he said, striking him on March 19 “like lighting.”

He was home alone when it hit.

“I felt fine one second,” he said. “In the next, I just had this outrageously painful headache. Seconds later, my knees started to wobble and gave way. I just lost my ability to stand up.

“I was at the top of my stairs when it happened,” he said. “I crawled down my stairs backwards to my phone. I dialed 911, and I had just barely enough time to say I was having a stroke and what my location was. At that point, my stroke took over and I was helpless on the floor. Within five to 10 minutes, the EMTs showed up at my house and kicked in my door.

“They put me on a stretcher, and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said.


Doctors later told him that his stroke attacked his brain stem, where an artery had burst and bled. It is a particularly rare kind of stroke with a high mortality rate.

He spent most of the first couple of weeks unconscious, sedated by doctors in hopes of giving his brain time to heal.

“They just wanted to keep me quiet,” he said.

When he woke up, his right side was paralyzed.

But he was told he could come back and he went to work. After weeks at Maine Medical Center, he spent more weeks at the New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland. For hours each day, he relearned to walk and take care of himself.

He’s still working at it, trying to erase a slight lisp. He also is working to coax more feeling and control into his right arm and leg.


“My leg is coming back,” he said. “My hand is coming back much slower.”

His progress is so good that he hopes to return to the workplace in a few weeks.

“I’m self-sufficient,” he said. “I’m living with my brother for a while, so I can get used to living in a house again. I’ll be here for another week or so, then it’s back to my house. Life goes on.”

And his debt is mounting.

Insurance covered most of his $300,000-plus bill. But there was a substantial deductible and other expenses, such as his mortgage.

He wishes his job at the Franco Center were still there, he said.


“I could take over again within a couple of weeks,” he said. “I can still make phone calls. I can still type with one hand. They had no idea I would be back again within three and a half months.”

Ray Legueux, the center’s board chairman and interim executive director, declined to comment Thursday on Morin’s statement that he could return.

Legueux said the center is continuing to move forward with plans to name a new director.

However, on a personal level, he hoped Morin would have a complete recovery. He said the center is hosting the benefit for Morin at no charge.

Besides Rustic Overtones, the concert is expected to feature the bands Pardon Me, Doug; $2 Pistol; and Morin’s own band, Lazy Lightning. Before the accident, he played bass in the Grateful Dead cover band. Admission to the show is a suggested donation of $10.

Another benefit is scheduled for July 15 at Grill 233 in Yarmouth. A portion of the dinner proceeds will help Morin. In both cases, they were initiated and planned by friends.


“One of the bright spots of having a stroke is — once again — learning how many friends I’ve got,” he said.

It helps him keep a positive attitude, he said.

“You can either think of all of the things you can’t do, or you can be thankful about the fact that you’re still alive and be mindful of all of the things you still can do,” he said.

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