L.L. Bean leader Leon Gorman dies at 80

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FREEPORT — L.L. Bean Chairman Emeritus Leon Gorman has died at age 80.

Gorman, the grandson of company founder and namesake Leon Leonwood Bean, had cancer and died on Thursday at his home in Yarmouth, according to a statement from the company.

Gorman became president of the company in 1967 before retiring in 2001 and becoming chairman. He held that position until 2013.

According to L.L. Bean’s website, Gorman brought tremendous growth to L.L. Bean. As president, he grew it from a $4.75 million company to one worth more than $1 billion.

Chris McCormick, L.L.Bean president and CEO, sent a note to the company Thursday morning to offer his sympathies to Gorman’s family and to let employees know Gorman had died.

“Leon has been a great presence in my life for the past 32 years,” McCormick said. “He was a boss, mentor, coach, community leader, dear friend and inspiration. Most importantly, he was the most decent human being you would ever want to meet.”

Gorman’s daughter Jennifer Wilson also sent a note to the company saying her father will be greatly missed.

“My dad’s passing leaves an immeasurable void in our family,” she said. “Leon was a larger than life figure in my world growing up.”

Wilson said Gorman cared deeply about L.L. Bean and instilled his values in the company.

“He was my dad, yet his life was closely intertwined with the company he built, nurtured and loved,” she said. “Not surprisingly, the personality traits that describe our company fit my dad to a tee.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also released a statement.

“Leon Gorman was a great American who loved the state of Maine and built an iconic brand in L.L. Bean,” she said. “His visionary leadership of the company created thousands of good jobs for Mainers.”

Collins also commended Gorman for his charitable work.

“Along with his wife Lisa, Leon was an extraordinarily generous contributor to countless causes including educational institutions and conservation organizations, reflecting his belief in our state’s future and his determination to preserve its legacy,” the senator said.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, also recognized Gorman’s generosity.

“He not only supported many worthy causes with his philanthropy, but also frequently volunteered at places like Preble Street without thought of publicity or recognition,” Pingree said  in a prepared statement. “Down-to-earth, compassionate, and an incredibly hard worker, Leon loved Maine and it showed in his generosity and commitment to our state.”

According to the company, the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland was very important to Gorman; he volunteered there every Wednesday morning for 12 years. In 2009, Preble Street named Gorman its volunteer of the year.

According to L.L. Bean, Gorman requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Preble Street.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

L.L. Bean Chairman Emeritus Leon Gorman, who died on Thursday at age 80, was presented with a portrait of himself, painted by artist Jon Friedman, in May.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.