Falmouth celebrates the life of beloved teacher Kevin Grover
FALMOUTH — The gymnasium at Falmouth High School brimmed with people Saturday as Kevin Grover's colleagues, neighbors, friends and students remembered his humor-filled, energetic, inspiring and too-short life.
Grover, a 40-year-old Falmouth resident, died of a heart attack after going for a run Thanksgiving Day in Rangeley.
For those who knew Grover, the day was all about the memories, with tales of his achievements, antics and enormous heart. Stories about college adventures, space camp camaraderie and a "perfect" love story painted a picture of a man who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
At the start of the memorial, Falmouth Elementary School Co-Principal John Flaherty asked everyone to greet their neighbors – just as Grover greeted each of his students every morning.
“Each morning, Kevin made a point of greeting each of his second-graders as they entered the classroom,” Flaherty said. “Welcoming them, checking in on how they were doing, and wishing them a great day.”
Josh Olins, a first-grade teacher at Falmouth Elementary School, said his immediate bond with Grover was a matter of both survival and camaraderie in a field of mostly women.
“He had a way of making everyone feel respected and listened to,” Olins said. “I think what we have here today is a collection of some of the people who have been touched by Kevin Grover. We, the touched people, are here because we were touched by either his teaching, his friendship or humor, and, I suspect for most of us it was ... all of the above. My connection with Kevin was certainly all of the above.”
Olins described Grover's sense of humor with a story about the pair swapping lives for the day.
“One April Fool's Day, a few years ago, we decided to switch roles as a prank,” he said. “I dressed like Kevin – put on his glasses, his tie, I brushed my hair and went into his classroom. And he dressed down and messed up his hair and went into mine. We kept up the charade until lunch time, all the while insisting that the kids call us by the other's name.”
Grover's best friend, Rob Wharton, seconded Olins, saying that not only was Grover (affectionately called “Lemmy”) the center of attention because of his humor, he was the “social director” for his group of friends at the University of Maine at Farmington.
“Lemmy had a charismatic personality to which everyone was drawn. He could be anywhere at any time and make a friend,” Wharton said.
He said Grover was responsible for maintaining a tight-knit group of friends after college – planning parties and “all-guys weekends.”
His role as the social director of life was not just noticed by Grover's close friends. Justin Darnell and Christina Mills, 2010 teachers of the year from Colorado and Wyoming, respectively, said Grover – Maine's 2010 Teacher of the Year – was always the one to organize a prank or get their group motivated.
“If they told us that we ... could go on a cross-country road trip and we got to choose who we wanted to be in the car with, every single one of us would have selected Kevin. ... He meant the world to each of us,” said Darnell, wearing a "Super Grover" T-shirt.
Darnell and Grover shared several stories of their exploits with Grover, from taking over a space shuttle with a prop machine gun to organizing an impromptu ice cream social to plan the "2010 Boy Toy (Teachers of the Year) Calendar."
Grover's younger brother, Chris, said that, unlike most siblings, the pair never fought and remained close throughout their lives.
“When Kevin was around he gave off love waves, just like radio waves and sound waves,” he said. “I always wanted to be within reach of them.”
Grover is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and children Lillian and Elias.
Donations to the Grover family can be made to the Grover Family Fund at any TDBank location.