Robert Paul LeBlanc Sr. excelled in football at all levels — high school, college and professional — but like many athletes who play a contact sport, there was always the risk of a concussion.

Just before he died, Mr. LeBlanc agreed to donate his brain to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy with the hope that research into the effects of the concussions he suffered as a player might give doctors better insight into treatment of future players.

Several former and active NFL players have agreed to donate their brain and spinal cord tissue to the study, according to the university’s website. The Center was created in 2008 as a collaborative venture of the Boston University School of Medicine and the Sports Legacy Institute.

Mr. LeBlanc, a longtime resident of Cumberland and more recently Gorham, died Wednesday following a lengthy illness.

He was 74.

“He suffered several concussions in his day, but back then they didn’t do anything about it,” said a son, Robert Paul LeBlanc Jr. of Cumberland.

Mr. LeBlanc was born in South Belleville, Nova Scotia. He attended local schools until the sixth grade, when he dropped out to work as a lumberjack.

“He decided he didn’t want to be a lumberjack for all of his life,” his son said. Mr. LeBlanc moved to Boston to live with his great aunt.

Though he could not speak English, he excelled in high school sports, playing football, hockey and baseball. In 2001, he was inducted into the Boston English high school sports hall of fame.

Even more remarkable, his son said, is that he overcame the language barrier in high school — he was elected class president in his senior year.

After graduation, he attended Boston College, where he played varsity football for four years. He played on the defensive line as well as linebacker.

Following college, he played four years of professional football for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. His son said Mr. LeBlanc was a large man, standing 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 240 pounds during his playing years.

After football, Mr. LeBlanc started a career in sales and management with International Harvester. He transferred to Maine in 1967.

He eventually left International Harvester to join his sons in their business — Industrial Concrete Services of Gorham.

As he neared retirement, Mr. LeBlanc drove a school bus for the town of Gorham for a couple of years.

He and his wife, Marilyn, had lived in Gorham for 21 years. They were married for 50 years.

LeBlanc said that his father also enjoyed baseball. Later in life, he became passionate about coaching and umpiring Little League games.

While his sons were growing up, he tried to share his love and knowledge of baseball with them.

“He may have sold trucks for a living, but he was one of the few parents where everyday at 3:30 he’d show up for our batting practice,” his son said. “He was tough (as a coach), but he was good. He knew the game really well.”

Mr. LeBlanc also umpired five or six state Little League championship games.

He was an avid outdoorsman, and trained and raised hunting dogs. He spent a lot of his spare time hunting and fishing with friends in his beloved Nova Scotia.

One of his closest friends, Delbert Bourque, wrote a book about their adventures called “Delbert’s Incredible Hunting and Fishing Stories.” The book is filled with photographs of the deer and rabbits they killed.

Mr. LeBlanc’s son remembers the long treks into the back woods with his dad to reach a hunting camp.

“We’d go back six, eight miles into the woods. We never saw another soul,” his son said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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