JAY — The dedication of a Christmas tree Monday night to police and fire Chief Larry White Sr. came with tears, laughter and earnest words.

White of Jay has been on medical leave since February trying to beat pancreatic cancer. The dedication was held in the Board of Selectpersons room to keep White out of the brisk wind.

The room was packed with selectpersons, firefighters, police, residents, town employees, friends and family, with some unable to squeeze into the room.

The Fat Albert blue spruce tree is planted on the grassy part of the parking lot in front of the Jay Police Station. Though it is small now, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said, it will grow mighty.

“Its roots will grow deep into our community and will become a part of our future traditions. It will become part of our community and remind us of Larry and his constant dedication to the town of Jay,” she said.

White sat in a chair next to former Town Manager Ruth Cushman with his son, Larry White Jr., standing nearby.

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LaFreniere started the selectpersons meeting with the dedication, thanking everyone for coming.

“We are here to honor one of our own. A friend, a co-worker, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a fire chief and a police chief,” she said.

She didn’t get far into her notes she had jotted down before she stopped to dab the tears from her eyes.

“Larry White is someone that is very special to all of us,” she said. “On top of what he is to each of us individually, he is also an incredibly important part of our community.”

White has been in law enforcement for 32 years. During his career, prior to coming to work in 1987 for Jay, he worked for the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department and for the police departments of Lewiston, Sabattus and Livermore Falls.

White became chief in 2002. Cushman said one of the first things she did when she became manager was to ask the board to appoint White as police chief. White had been interim police chief for a while, she said.

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“Larry has spent his entire career serving his community,” LaFreniere said. “But we are not honoring Larry just for his work as a police officer that keeps our community safe. We are also honoring him for everything else he does.”

She named off several activities White has been involved in for years, including holding barbecues at the senior housing complex and visiting schools to teach children about safety, about anti-bullying and to say ‘no’ to drugs.

“Larry is a part of so many lives,” she said.

Even with what he is going through, LaFreniere said, he checks in with her to see how everything is going, offering to help in any way he can.

“He is still looking out for all of us even when he’s facing his own challenges,” she said.

It was the town’s finance director, Lisa Bryant, who came up with the idea of dedicating the tree to White.

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“This Christmas tree will become part of our community, the way Larry has,” LaFreniere said.

Selectperson Pearl Cook thanked White for his dedication to the town.

“He made the town a good place,” she said, and prayed that he recovers.

T.J. Plourde, who grew up in Jay and is principal of Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, said he worked as a police officer for Livermore Falls for 13 years, and every day that he saw White, he was working not only as an officer, but in other ways for the community.

He thanked White for his help in the development of of Spruce Mountain High School, the consolidation with Livermore and Livermore Falls.

Firefighter Scott Shink thanked White for being such a strong advocate for firefighters.

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Cushman told White she appreciated all he does for Jay and for what he did for her.

“We love you,” she said.

White thanked the firefighters and police officers for all that they have done.

“I’m proud of all of you,” he said.

He also thanked everyone for supporting him through his battle with cancer.

“I haven’t given up the fight yet,” White said.

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