Norm Gagne didn’t have the privilege of seeing his uncle, Ronald “Pep” Gagne, play sports for Lewiston High School in the 1950s. What he knew of his Uncle Pep’s athletic feats he only learned about in scrapbooks — scrapbooks that were as big as Pep’s achievements for the Blue Devils.

When Norm Gagne was a kid, he would go up to the second floor of an apartment building his father owned, where his uncle lived, for a story time of sorts.

“I used to go up there and watch sports with him, and he’d talk, and I’d look through his scrapbook: ‘What about this? What about that?'” Norm Gagne said. “He’d tell me and it was like, ‘My uncle’s a pro?'”

No, Pep Gagne never played professional sports, or even college sports for that matter. But he was a star for Lewiston in three sports: basketball, football and baseball. It was his achievements in high school that have earned Gagne a spot in the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame, into which he will be inducted on Sunday.

It was on the hardwood that the 1957 LHS graduate found the most success. The two-time All-State selection scored more than 1,200 points in his Blue Devils career.

“Most of the time he was always the top scorer of his team. And a lot of times other teams would … double- or triple-team him to try to stop, and even then he still was able to score,” Norm Gagne said. “At one time he was one of the top 50 players in the country. Back then they kept track of that.”

Gagne was also an All-State end on the Lewiston football team in the fall of 1956. He played on the Blue Devils’ undefeated baseball team in the spring of 1957 as a catcher and infielder.

Norm Gagne said his uncle, nicknamed “Pep” in part because people often misspelled his first name as “Roland,” was a self-made athlete.

“He wasn’t all that tall, all that big. He was pretty skinny,” Norm Gagne said. “He told me just practice, practice, practice. He’d always be shooting baskets, all in his spare time. He’d go to City Park and just spend hours, and it paid off. And it wasn’t because of his height.”

On the gridiron, that skinny kid “wasn’t afraid to take a hit,” according to Norm Gagne. “He was a tough cookie.”

The younger Gagne, 15 years younger than Pep, guessed that his uncle was about 5-foot-11. But he loomed large to his nephew.

“I looked up to him,” Gagne said. “I played sports too. Not as well as he did, of course. He was like my role model. My Uncle Pep was a great ear for sports. He’d tell me something, I’d listen.”

Norm Gagne could listen to those stories forever. His father and fellow uncles would echo Uncle Pep’s stories, reinforcing his athletic feats and his “fierce determination to succeed.”

Those feats, however, came to an end after graduating from Lewiston. Pep Gagne “briefly” attended the University of Maine, but dropped out to join the Army. Norm Gagne said “the studying part” of college wasn’t for his uncle, but two years in the military was something he was proud of.

Pep Gagne later became of fan of Norm’s athletic endeavors, though as Norm said: “there’s no succeeding like (Uncle Pep).”

Pep Gagne’s biggest fan kept his legend alive after Pep’s death in 2009. Pep Gagne had no interest in trying to get into the A-L Sports Hall of Fame, but Norm always thought he belonged. So after Pep’s death Norm began to pursue his uncle’s posthumous induction. He finally got the word this Super Bowl Sunday that his uncle was getting the hall call.

“I found out Super Bowl morning,” Gagne said. “It’s like I won the Super Bowl.”

Gagne said he’s very proud of his Uncle Pep, and that he at least had to try to get him into the A-L Hall. The large scrapbook was his ammunition.

That same scrapbook that drew in Norm Gagne to his uncle’s achievements eventually did the same for the A-L Hall selection committee. And now that “pro” athlete will be a hall of famer.

“The Gagne name will be up there,” Norm Gagne said, “and deservedly so.”

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