The 20-year-old man from Tennessee who died after a car crash in Standish on Wednesday was in Maine for a summer-long missionary program volunteering at churches and serving as an ambassador for his faith.

Palmer Maphet of Mount Juliet, Tenn., was remembered by friends as someone who was always upbeat and reveled in serving his church and encouraging others to share his religious experience.

“He was by far the most positive individual I have ever met,” said Jacob Altom, a friend from Tennessee Technical University, where Maphet was a sophomore and ran track. “He loved everyone and was by far the most Christ-like college student I have ever met.”

Maphet and three people who were traveling with him were being driven home from Motorcycle Week in Laconia, N.H., where they handed out water and talked about their faith with people who were interested.

The supervisor of the mission program in Maine, Marilyn McClendon, 57, was driving a 2005 Hyundai Elantra east on Route 25 in Standish when a 2010 Toyota Tacoma driven by Paula Haddow, 63, crossed the centerline.

The Toyota hit the Hyundai, police say. Maphet was in the front passenger’s seat.

Lea Hardwick, 20, one of the three other passengers in the Hyundai, remained in satisfactory condition at Maine Medical Center on Thursday. Legon Craighead, 19, and Justin Owens, 20, were treated and released Wednesday, along with McClendon.

All were wearing their seat belts when the crash occurred.

Haddow declined medical attention. The crash remains under investigation.

Ken Smith, a member of SouthCoast Community Church, which hosts some of the missionaries, said Maphet’s traveling team would do painting or landscaping at a church one week, then move to another part of the state for another project, usually staying with host families

Thursday was to be their day off before they set out on the next project, he said.

McClendon is minister of family life at SouthCoast Community Church and a liaison with the Baptist Convention.

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry program brings members of the Southern Baptist Church to the Northeast so they can experience missionary work in a culture unlike theirs in the Bible Belt.

Maphet noted some of the differences between this area and the South in a Facebook posting a week ago, 12 days after he arrived, after an orientation on New England culture.

“In New England, if an individual is not pleased with something about another individual, they will not hesitate to inform him or her face-to-face. I love their no-nonsense style of living,” he wrote.

But he found the area challenging for missionary work.

“New Englanders are set on their ways. They do not want to listen to what you have to say if you open a conversation with religion or politics,” he wrote.

Instead, he said he and his team members shared their faith by example and cited a quote by Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel everyday. If necessary, use words.”

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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