WEST PARIS — Troy Billings first met John White years ago, when Billings was a teenager looking to join the Fire Department and White was the town manager of South Paris.

“I’m not afraid to admit it — I was hanging out with the wrong kids,” Billings said Sunday. “John was like, ‘I’m willing to give him a shot.’ I credit a lot to where I am today because of John White.”

Billings, now assistant chief of the West Paris Fire Department, helped organize a benefit dinner for White last Friday, less than a month after White left the position of town manager of West Paris because of failing health.

The dinner, which 300 people attended, raising more than $4,000 for White’s family, turned into an impromptu memorial service when people learned White, 59, had died that evening in hospice.

Guests passed around a book, writing down their stories and memories.

“I was really hoping that I was going to be able to hand it to him at the hospice house,” Billings said.

He said he was touched and grateful for how many people had come out to support his longtime friend.

“It was really nice and he would have been happy to know that his family, all of his friends were gathered in one room to honor him,” Billings said. 

He described White as caring and thoughtful.

White, who was the second town manager of West Paris, had served in the position for eight years

Interim Town Manager Wade Rainey said White was good with finances and good for West Paris.

White leaves behind a wife and several children and grandchildren.

“He’ll be missed by the other departments, the Fire Department and just about everybody in town,” Rainey said. “One of those sad things, I guess.”

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