Life & Legacy—Larry Poulin: He Was Always Giving Back

By Taylor Vortherms

Courtesy The Ellsworth American
ELLSWORTH — Years ago, the general manager of Lee Credit Now, Brian Poulin, spotted a man inside a usually empty office at the auto dealership.
Confused, Brian consulted a sales associate to identify the person.

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“That’s your father,” the employee replied, referring to Larry Poulin. “He just walked in and said he needed a phone book and an office.”
Brian shook his head at the memory and smiled.
“That was dad for you,” he said. “Right up to the end, he was on the go.”
Larry Poulin was well known around town for his heavy involvement in the community.
“After he retired, he just got busier,” Brian said. “He was always giving back, even after he passed away.”
Last February, Larry died and, in typical fashion, asked that all the money gifted to his family upon his death be donated to the Maine Coast Healthcare Foundation to benefit Maine Coast Memorial Hospital.
“The Poulin family has deep roots in Ellsworth,” MCHF Executive Director Jack Frost said. “Larry was just a spectacular man.” Frost had spoken with Grace and Larry about the nonprofit’s mission to support the hospital through philanthropy. Since 2008, the foundation has made $659,000 available to purchase equipment and finance projects among more than 20 hospital departments.
Frost asked the Poulins to consider supporting the cause by setting up a named fund — a permanent means of contributing to the community’s health care.
“It’s exciting to have such strong support,” Frost said. “Ultimately, the named funds will prove to be a lasting source of annual support for MCMH.”
The Larry and Grace Poulin Fund is one of 10 named funds currently set up with the foundation. A fund can be established for as little as $2,500 and added to over time as well as named to honor an individual.
Named funds also can be designated for a specific program or service, such as emergency care or cancer treatment. Frost provides donors or their families with periodic reports about the use of their gift.
Once established, funds are invested as part of the endowment fund, where the annual support from each fund can benefit the hospital perpetually.
“It’s a neat way to keep Dad’s name alive,” Brian said. “He was one of those guys everyone liked.”
Larry worked as a teacher as well as a state probation and parole officer for Washington and Hancock counties. He also served as a service agent for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for 22 years, during which he instituted many programs that served thousands of youths in the area.
“Mom and Dad were great examples,” Brian said. “I don’t know how they did it all while chasing around all of us kids.”
Grace and Larry, married for 64 years, raised nine children in their Liberty Street home overlooking the Union River. The size of their family never seemed to slow the couple down.
Brian can recall cross-country road trips as a kid, crammed in the back seat of a single-cab pickup truck between two of his siblings. A fourth child sat up front in between Grace and Larry.
With the pop-up camper in tow, the family drove as far as Oregon, touring cities and national parks along the way.
“Who would want to put four kids in a vehicle and travel across the country?” Brian asked. “My parents loved to drive.
They said their best excursions happened when they got lost.”
Brian often would suggest flying as an alternative form of transportation, to which Larry always replied: “You can’t see anything from a plane.”
Grace and Larry managed to explore all 50 states together, but they never seemed absent to the Ellsworth community.
“They were involved in everything,” Brian said. “Volunteering was their hobby. They loved camping and helping people.”
Larry served as American Red Cross disaster preparedness chairman for 10 years and headed the Salvation Army Coats for Kids campaign for seven.
He served as president of the Ellsworth Kiwanis Club, a branch of the global organization serving children in need around the world. In 1984, the club recognized Larry as “Citizen of the Year” for his 4-H achievements through the Cooperative Extension in Hancock County.
The World War II veteran also remained active in Quartermaster Laundry Company and the VFW Post 109. Larry served in the color guard at funeral services for veterans and marched in local parades until the age of 80.
Whether his volunteer efforts aided soldiers, children, the elderly or the disabled, Larry’s compassion revealed no bias. On a given day, Brian said his father could be organizing a dance for people with autism or delivering meals to seniors bound to their homes.
“He was older than the people he was serving,” Brain said of his father’s Meals for Maine involvement. “He just didn’t like to sit at home being idle.”
When he wasn’t serving the community, Larry was on the sidelines watching local sports.
Before games, the proud grandpa of 23 would rummage through his collection of baseball caps, all boasting different logos of the teams on which his grandchildren played.
Brian remembers the last sporting event Larry ever attended: a basketball game at Ellsworth High School. He watched his father mingle with the crowd, chatting and shaking hands across bleacher seats — a typical night for Larry.
“He was always out in the community, talking and visiting with everyone,” Brian said. “This is how I remember Dad.”
The next day, Brian received a call from his mother and learned his father had suffered a stroke. Two weeks later, Larry passed away in his home of 64 years at the age of 88.
“As hard as it was, you couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Brian said. “He got to say goodbye to everyone he loved.”
The money donated to the hospital in his honor exceeded both Frost’s and Brian’s hopes.
“I expected that maybe we’d get a couple hundred dollars,” Brian said. “A thousand at most.”
Forty-eight individual donations totaled $4,070 to the fund, which will provide support to the Mary Dow Center for Cancer Care beginning in July 2015 and each subsequent year.
“I was amazed with how many gifts the hospital received in memory of Larry,” Frost said. “This was a testament to the wonderful life he lived.” RSS