Tom Kendall Submitted photo

AUBURN — Tom Kendall, chairman of the Auburn School Committee and a longtime fixture in the Northeast skiing community, died Friday night from injuries suffered from falling off a roof.

“It’s a very, very sad day right now,” said Superintendent Katy Grondin. 

She said Kendall was a central figure in the effort to get a new Edward Little High School building approved by voters this year.  

“He just had such a passion for education,” Grondin said. “That’s why it’s so sad — he was so dedicated. With this new high school project, he put in so many hours. He saw this as such a benefit not only to the students but to the staff.”

Kendall died from complications days after falling off a roof while making repairs.

He was an Edward Little High School graduate and competitive skier who later became heavily involved in the development of Auburn’s ski community and ski-race timing for high school and college events throughout the Northeast.

According to a 2015 Maine Ski Hall of Fame induction, Kendall was skiing competitively by the age of 10. At Edward Little, he was a member of two Maine State High School Championship teams and a New England Championship team, and went on to ski for Dartmouth College.

After graduation, he was the cross country assistant chief of protocol at the 1980 Olympics, timing events there and at the World Cup. He also served as chief of timing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Auburn Middle School Alpine ski coach Darcy Smyth said Kendall was as much a champion of the local ski community as he was the education system.

Smyth said her mother was very close to the Kendall family and spent much of her childhood racing with them. Tom became involved with the local ski community when his own children began to race, and his involvement remained a treasured part of the skiing community, she said.

He helped organize the annual Auburn Ski Swap, and used his own computer program to keep track of vendors and profits. According to Smyth, he never let young skiers go without.

Everybody knows Tom Kendall,” she said. “You can walk down the street here in Auburn and everyone knows who he was. He was just a kind, caring, gentle guy who never let the ski community fail. We always had all of our stuff for our ski teams. We were well-equipped, and no kid went behind.”

As a timer and an expert computer coder, Kendall played an important role in the skiing community, timing races in New England on the high school and college level.

Auburn Ski Association President Kevin Arel said being able to time ski competitions is a technically difficult and incredibly important skill in which Kendall excelled.

“Timing is huge. It’s kind of like playing baseball without a scoreboard — timing is very important,” Arel said. “Tom made it clear he could time anything.”

Kendall will be missed, Arel said Saturday.

“He’s going to be missed and is never going to be able to be replaced. I’ve gotten to know Tom just on the skiing side, but he’s been fabulous to work with, always a wealth of information, and always has great ideas.”

Grondin agreed.

‘He really saw education as a cornerstone,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.” 

According to Grondin, in addition to his work on the new high school project, Kendall supported the school’s laptop initiative as one way to prepare students for the 21st century. 

Though Kendall wasn’t a teacher himself, Grondin said he was “civic-minded,” with a real passion for education.

“He was a champion for the school department. He was dedicated to always moving the school department forward and providing the best education for its students,” she said.

A thoughtful, gentle man who worked for collaboration over conflict, Grondin said Kendall understood the role of the School Committee and tried to find meaningful solutions that benefited taxpayers and students. 

He was very thoughtful, and really thinking through things,” she said. “He didn’t do it for his ego. He did it to make a difference.”  

Auburn School Committee Chair Tom Kendall talks in this 2013 Sun Journal file photo. Sun Journal file photo

 

 

 

 

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