LONG ISLAND — Benjamin Edward LaMontagne, 18, died unexpectedly Feb. 22 at his home due to complications from surgery.
He was born in Portland on July 22, 1995, the son of Peter Bruce and Lynn Finney LaMontagne. He spent the first year of his life in China where his parents were posted at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. As a young student, LaMontagne attended Cathedral Grammar School, and he was in his senior year at Cheverus High School. A National Honor Society member, he received a merit scholarship for performance and planned to attend the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., after graduation.
LaMontagne loved Cheverus High School where his interests ranged from religious studies to jazz combo and sailing. This year, he found his AP environmental science and honors English classes especially rewarding. He also recently completed a spiritual retreat with fellow Cheverus classmates, and drew great strength from his faith, family and friends.
LaMontagne was a passionate musician. In addition to his music studies in band and jazz combo at Cheverus, he studied bass clarinet for seven years under Julia Frothingham at the Portland Conservatory of Music. He studied voice there with Michael Albert, and performed with the University of Southern Maine-sponsored Portland Youth Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Peter Martin. He also performed twice with the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra. LaMontagne was twice named to the All New England Band and was principal bass clarinetist for Maine All State Band two years in a row.
LaMontagne played a variety of other instruments including the clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and English concertina. He could sometimes be seen and heard busking with the penny whistle on street corners in Portland with his dear friend and fellow Cheverus senior Christian Cilley.
After music, LaMontagne’s greatest love was the ocean and the outdoors. He sailed for the varsity sailing team, lettering in the spring of his sophomore year. He was also an apprentice lobsterman on Long Island, hauling traps by hand from his peapod dory, Wicked Tippy, from age 14. He later expanded of his own traps, hauling from a small West Point skiff he named Hurdy Gurdy. For the past two years, he spent the summer season as stern man for Donny MacVane, the senior lobsterman and mentor to many fishermen on Long Island.
LaMontagne was a member of the Cheverus Outing Club, his most recent trip being a winter hike in the Bigelow range in western Maine. In his free time on Long Island, he would often hike the shoreline and forest to enjoying the peace and beauty of the island. His senior yearbook picture captures his spirit – a snapshot of him jumping off the wharf into the wake of a ferry departing from Long Island.
LaMontagne developed this passion for tea and the associated culture at Dobra Tea on Middle Street. He cultivated many friendships there, spending hours per week enjoying tea and fellowship. Benjamin recently recorded in a journal, “Tea is my home.”
He is survived by many dear friends, neighbors, teachers, classmates and cousins along with his parents, Peter and Lynn LaMontagne of Long Island; two brothers, Christian James LaMontagne, Julian Paul LaMontagne; twin sisters, Agnes Mae Grace LaMontagne, Carol Anne Grace LaMontagne all of Long Island; maternal grandmother, Charlene Finney of South Portland, maternal grandfather Edward Finney and his wife, Myrna, of Freeport; maternal aunts, Donna Finney of Saco, Karen Finney of South Portland; paternal aunts and uncles, Anne Marie and Jon Louie, of San Carlos, Calif., Fred and Terry LaMontagne Jr. of Gorham.
An interment service will be held on Long Island in the late spring. Donations in LaMontagne’s memory can be made to: Long Island Community Center Revitalization Project, P.O. Box 263, Long Island, ME 04050.