Neil E. LaRochelle Sr. 80: Former Bath teacher, principal

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WOOLWICH — Neil Edward LaRochelle, Sr., 80, died from natural causes at his Woolwich home Sept. 4, the 57th anniversary of his wedding date to his late wife, Mary.

Born on July 28, 1931, at the family farm in Bowdoinham, he was the second of four children of Edward A. and Lela E. (Bishop) LaRochelle.  

Upon the sudden death of his father, his uncle paid the tuition for him to attend Maine Central Institute. After graduating from MCI in 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict. Following his service, he attended and graduated from Farmington State Teacher’s College (now the University of Maine at Farmington) in 1955. He received his master’s degree in education at the University of Maine in Orono in 1960.

He worked as a teacher at Bath Grammar School and Bath Junior High School until 1968, when he was named teaching principal at Newell Elementary School in Bath. Later on he became principal of both Newell and Dike schools until he retired from teaching in 1985. Subsequently he and his wife Mary operated the Sandwich Shop on Vine St. in Bath before selling the business to his sons, Jerry and Neil, and son-in-law, Jim.

During summers he also worked as a carpenter with several fellow teachers building houses, including his own home in Woolwich.

In addition to his life-long vocation as a school teacher and principal, he was a farmer and outdoorsman at heart who enjoyed deer hunting and bird hunting. He ran a vegetable business in the Bath area for many years and was a proponent of organic farming and recycling long before it was popular. 

He and his wife Mary were sports enthusiasts and loved following Morse High School sports, especially basketball. They received the first Morse Fan of the Year Award, which subsequently was named after them.

He was also a fan of New England sports teams, taking the family on many occasions to Fenway Park and Boston Garden to see the Red Sox and Celtics.

An active member of St. Mary’s Parish in Bath for many years, and served as a Lector and Parish Council member.

A loving husband, father and grandfather, known as “Beepa,” he took great pride in the accomplishments of every family member.  

In July 2001 he was predeceased by his beloved wife Mary.  

Surviving are his six children, Lawrence and his wife Sara Wright of Woolwich, Gerald and his partner Irene Wasielewski of Topsham, Susan O’Dare and her husband James of Bath, Marcia Diamond and her husband John of Fayetteville, Ark., Timothy and his wife Alane of Woolwich, and Neil, Jr., and his wife Sherry of Lisbon Falls; 10 grandchildren, Kelly Savage and Maria LaRochelle of Bath, Allison O’Dare and her fiance Josh Marceau of Turner, Jennifer O’Dare of Bath, John Diamond of Old Town, Sarah Diamond of Orono, Heather Crooker of Newburgh, Mary LaRochelle and Lora LaRochelle of Woolwich and Neil LaRochelle, III, of Lisbon Falls; one great-granddaughter, Alyssa Savage of Bath; his sisters, Hilda Ryder-Shaw of Bangor, Gail Bridgham and her husband Clifford of Glenburn, and Bette Craft and her husband Tom of Raleigh, Miss.

Visiting hours will be held at Desmond Funeral Home at 638 High St. in Bath on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.  A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St Mary’s Church in Bath at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept 9.  

Memorial contributions may be made to the Mary and Neil LaRochelle Scholarship Fund, which benefits Morse High School students enrolling at the University of Maine, c/o of Sarah McPartland-Good, University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469.

Please visit desmondfuneralhomes.com to share thoughts and condolences with his family.

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